When viewing all the trailers of the Reelout Film Festival, there is only one movie that fully attracted my attention – Lilting. The reason why it draws my attention is quite simple – the heroine of the movie is a Chinese mother. After viewing the trailer I am really curious about how will this film reveal the conflict between the Western and Chinese culture, because as a Chinese myself, I know clearly what’s most Chinese’ view towards LGBTQ. Here is the trailer of this film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KeInPhXR4Gk
Lilting talks about the changing relationship between a Cambodian Chinese mother (Junn) and her son’s homosexual partner (Richard), after the death of her son (Kai). Richard, as Kai’s beloved one, decides to take the responsibilities of looking after of Junn. However, Junn never acknowledges his kindness because she cannot accept the care offered by a stranger. Knowing Junn’s identity as a traditional Chineseh mother – who is homophobic because there’s a lot of prejudice, stigma and the like against LGBTQ in traditional Chinese culture – Kai and Richard knows clearly what would it means to Junn if she knows Kai’s true sexual orientation.
However, because of Richard’s persistent efforts and patience,including finding a translator for Junn to help with her romance with a British old man. great progress is finally made in their relationship. The reason for this success is largely due to Richard ‘s cultural appropriation – using chopsticks and making good Chinese dishes. All these behaviors gains Junn’s favor gradually in the plot.
One important scene I remember is the argument between Junn and Richard when Junn tell him that she no longer wants to meet the Alan. They both shouted out their indignant and depression that is concealed carefully for the past days. In their conversation, Junn is emphasizing that she is Kai’s mother, and Kai is her only son and also, the only person she could rely on in this foreign land. Therefore, she takes it for granted that she should live with her son instead of Richard, the people have no relation with them. She refuses the care offered by Richard, even doubt his intention of being so caring to her as a stranger. Here, Junn is representing a typical Chinese woman who is influenced deeply by the society characterized by over-emphasized femininities. During 1960s-1990s, women in China are always told to be a good wife and good mother since a young age. They are never taught to pursue their own life, contrarily, they are asked to stay at home – cooking, doing house chores and so on. For example, Junn was placed in the Nursing Home, where there is nothing to worry but to enjoy her remaining years happily. However, Junn would rather to stay with her son all the time, taking care of everything for him. Besides, according to what Richard said, Junn is too dependent on Kai and is pushing too much pressure on him. Here, being subordinated by men is another characteristic of emphasized femininities. As it is introduced at the beginning of the movie, Junn has been in England for over a decade, however, as it is shown in the movie, she cannot speak in English or even understand it at all. We can easily identify that how much Junn rely on Kai, even for the most basic daily communication. This scene plays an important role in the overall importance of the film because it is the first time Junn faces her problems directly, laying a solid foundation for breaking of ice in her relationship with Richard at the end.
This is the first time for me to attend a film festival, so I have imagined a lot before attending this special event. Due to the special theme of this festival – queer films, which is controversial in a certain degree, I felt actually a little bit nervous, and also curious. What would be special from my past cinema experience? Will some of my behaviors be considered offensive? However, since the moment I step into the cinema hall, it seems all these questions came to an answer.
Before the film really begins, the manager announced a lucky number, and the person with that number on her ticket got a set of DVDs as a prize. This activity successfully lightened the mood of the audiences, rendering everyone feels more comfortable and relaxed. During the viewing, everyone just laughed at the funny points, smiled at the sweet scenes, and signs at the sad moments. Everything just seemed so natural and normal. Then I realized that it was just adopting this kind of ordinary heart when viewing, that the respect is fully paid. Acting too courteous and cautious will probably be counterproductive. This experience was really a lesson for me in terms of the authentic meaning of respect.