A Family Tour
Zi you xing
Gateway | Gateway
Exiled Chinese film director Yang Shu (Gong Zhe), mired in Hong Kong, yearns to see her ailing mother Chen Xiaolin (Nai An), who lives in China. Yang has previously made a "sensitive" film that infuriated local Chinese authorities, resulting in her fleeing to Hong Kong, leaving her mother behind. The family can temporarily reunite only in Taipei, Taiwan, after scheming to send her mother there as part of a mainland Chinese tour group. As Yang, along with her husband (Pete Teo) and son (Tham Xin Yue), shadow the tour, the family’s emotional reunion and uncertain future generate a poignant tension. At each stop, closely watched by a marvellously officious tour guide (Peng Shan, the director’s wife), Yang and her family must hold their emotions in check as they cherish, in public, all-too-brief intimate private family moments.
Ying Liang, himself an exiled Chinese filmmaker based in Hong Kong, has based this story on his own life, which he transforms into narrative cinema with a subtle, poetic dramaturgy that’s quietly infused with anger and pain. His decision to make the director in the film a woman allows him to re-create his situation in fictional mode, with just enough distance to create a starkly beautiful work of political artistry out of the raw elements of his own dark experience.
— Shelly Kraicer