And I, And I. Dir Lam Yan Yue
Judy, a single mother and Peter, her intellectually disabled son, have been through 45 years with each other. As minorities, lives were half spent with forgotten dreams and helpless love. Yet, they found a temporary exit through music.
A genuinely wonderful short documentary, you cannot help but fall in love with Judy and feel for her as she sacrifices everything in her life to support and care for her son. As we follow them on their daily routines, we learn a great deal about how a parent’s love can conquer all as she details how she looks after Peter, from simple tasks like getting out of bed to easing his cramps, she is ever-present and rarely out of eyesight for him in their cramped home.
Their mutual love of music brings an extra edge to the documentary. We see how talented Judy is musically, constantly singing songs she wrote and playing music; she dances and sings as it either eases Peter when upset or brings him joy as he smiles and laughs with her. Lam Yan Yue provides a sensitive look at the difficulties of parents who have disabled children who are not adults. As Judy gets older, she fears not being well enough to look after Peter or pass before him. A fear that all parents have in these situations.
Her camera often set back in these interview moments allows more emotion and fragility to creep in. Judy doesn’t want to dwell on the negative possibilities and only wants to think of the time she has with Peter now, but you can tell it sits in her mind. This woman’s strength to keep going is almost relentless in her positivity as she tries to give her son as good a life as she can.
A powerful documentary effectively pulls at your heart, making this a solid directorial debut for Lam Yan Yue.
Chop Chop – Dir Tsang Yuk Lui
The girl’s hair is tied in braids by her mother every morning. The rigorous woman believes the tighter the braids are, the tighter the mother-daughter bond is. So, the little girl lives with the achy, throbbing feeling from her scalp and tries to understand this painful love. There is a little fantasy in her mind which is never mentioned or carried out until an accident happens…
A charming little animation by Tsang Yuk Lui that shows how a parent tries their best for their child and has their best intentions at heart yet can also be incorrect. The young girl dreams of being free not only of the tight braids her mother meticulously gives her each morning but of the restrictions her mother has placed on her. With some flowing animation, we watch the child grow more as the person she wants to be. To be free and to play and have fun. A great little glimpse at a relationship evolves when a parent can take a step back and assess.
With a parent who is merely over-protective of her only daughter, we have a parent who has her daughter’s life set and wants to make sure everything is in order. To the point that her daughter will not even play in class as the other children, who seem to be that bit freer in their lives, run around and have fun. By also growing and realising that her daughter is her person and wants to make choices herself, the mother can ease more and enjoy the personality that her child has created for themselves.
The freeness of the animation as if this world lives in watercolour allows the audience to unwind, objects are not fully coloured in, lines are not straight, but that is what makes this work. Its fluid nature will enable us to reminisce at similar moments in our own lives.
Funeral – Dir Yiu Wan Yin Anna
In our life, we are afraid of death and want to catch the most important person or the best time of our life; however, we can’t control that, but we need to face that bravely. The story emphasises the message about the cycle of life, relationship, and connection between family and generation and the concept of Chinese death. The thesis of the story is about growing and finding the meaning of death.
Utilising various animation methods can usually create a muddled film and leave you too distracted from the actual story. Yet, Yiu Wan Yin Anna can make their film work very well. The different uses help bring an added dimension to the film as we see the young girl go through the funeral of her grandmother and listen to adults tell her what her grandmother is doing now.
When it comes full circle, and we realise that the person in the hospital bed at the beginning of the short isn’t, in fact, her grandmother, a lovely moment occurs as she realises that this is just how the world is. She tries her best to remain strong, yet memories are always present, and our director is never afraid of letting us see the fears that exist around death, especially with those who are younger.
Intriguingly, the girl’s family refuses to tell her that her grandmother has died. As mentioned earlier, they concoct stories instead, allowing the child to ignore the concept of death until they are older. This allows for the older version of the girl to cope in her way. The colour palette completely alters from a light hue to a darker tone at the second funeral as the girl realises more about the reality of death and what it means for her. A relatable film with some great touches within the animation is a great short and another filmmaker who should have a bright future.
The HongKongers – Dir Ian Lui Yee Pan
With the Hong Kong protests in the background, a reluctant grandson accompanies his grandfather to China to protect their ancestral lands from being reclaimed.
A film is full of heart about remembering where you came from shows how the loss of one’s history strikes the same despite a generation gap. By having the story be able a grandfather and his grandson, we can have a clever difference between the two instead of a son and father. Lok (Will Or) only knows the positive of the bustling city and life in Hong Kong and has no fond memories of his time at his ancestral home on mainland China. His grandfather (Chen Wan lei) reminisces fondly of where he was raised and has some deep seating regrets at never returning when his mother needed him the most.
Ian Lui Yee Pan and co-writer Renee Wong go to some extra details here as Lok and his family speak Hokkien, so when Lok has to talk to others without his grandpa, he struggles with his rusty Cantonese. This shows the gap between those in rural areas and those in Hong Kong. Lok’s uncle Hoing (Air Haung) tries to show how modern the city is getting by commenting on how there is a Ferris wheel now. Again it is the small things that work best and allows the entire film to shine.
The performances from our two leads are tremendous, with Chen Wan Lei stealing the film of a man who wanted to pay respects to those before him and preserve their memory as best as he could. No matter where you are from, you feel that and can easily relate in some form. You want to respect what your family has done to enable you to be where you are now. While Lok still has to learn that, he comes around to wanting to preserve the home to keep the memories he has just formed. His grandfather knows, though, that as good as that is and as much as he wants that. There are times to pick battles, and that in a way, by moving to Hong Kong, he has started his journey for his family there.
Interestingly the music here is a lot softer than previously seen in some Hong Kong films, and the melancholy tone is allowed to expand as we watch two men at junctions within their lives. In the end, this is a great piece and is full of heart – a very rewarding short.
New Voices from Hong Kong Students available via Chinese Cinema Season’s “Hong Kong, Reimagined” curated section.
Festival Website: www.chinesefilm.uk
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