Directed by HUI-CHEN HUANG
Sponsored by the Ministry of Culture, Republic of China (Taiwan) and Taiwan Academy in Los Angeles.
Political activist and documentarian Hui-Chen Huang hits a raw nerve in this feature documentary on her mother Anu, who for many years, as a closeted lesbian in traditional Taiwanese culture and society led a double life unbeknownst to all. In this autobiographical doc reminiscent of TARNATION and STORIES WE TELL, the filmmaker, as a grown-up, harnesses the power of the camera as a tool of interrogation to sort out and make sense of both the facts and fiction of what s/he thought was her parent and this person in the world. In a matter-of-fact manner, Huang initiates this delicate conversation over the family dining table, the most common safe space in a household, by asking Anu a battery of random questions from abstract (“Do you think anyone understands you?”) to direct (“Were you always a ‘tomboy’? “Did the family know you had girlfriends?”) From this modest intervention, Anu slowly acquiesces opening up on camera to her daughter and us in a radical act of trust—a remarkable feat from a woman whose always had to withhold a part of herself from those she loved the most.
Embarking on a journey back to Anu’s hometown, the filmmaker, with her own young daughter, Ping by her side, delves into the histories and secrets of her mother’s life (as a Taoist priestess with a gambling habit plus more!) through excavated home video footage, on-location intimate interviews with extended family, close friends, and yes, her mother’s former lovers, who, perhaps, fill in best the missing puzzles and offer the positive in what is otherwise, some dark and heavy revelations. Huang, in a heightened emotional moment, tells her mother, “I want to tell you why I’m making this film.” From that admission, their mother-daughter bond takes on a new level of intimacy, friction, or both.
A winner of the Teddy Award at the 67th Berlinale and the Audience Choice Award at the 53rd Golden Horse Film Festival, this gem of a character portrait that blossoms into a poignant, multi-generational, family melodrama was executed produced by Taiwanese new wave auteur Hou Hsiao-Hsien and offers up another international perspective on the LGBTQ experience that is really universal and relatable.
Taiwanese filmmaker, Hui-chen Huang, knows her mother is a lesbian, but just about nothing else about her. They have lived like strangers under one roof for decades, almost never talking to each other. One day, Hui-chen finally summoned up the courage to sit her down and make her mother talk. But is she ready to hear what she has to say?
Producer: Diana Chiawen Lee
Director: Hui-Chen Huang