Cast: Chen Shu Fang, Hsia Teng Hung, Kao Yu Sia, Lee Yi Chieh
Official Selection, 2019 Busan International Film Festival
Best Actress, 2019 Taipei Film Awards
Han is an inquisitive child. He doesn’t say much, but it’s only because he’s absorbing everything around him. Though painfully shy, he relishes the verdant tranquility of his great grandmother’s mountain village, transfixed by the birds he often sees caged or sometimes fluttering high above. As Great-Grandma explains to him, the birds are spiritual beings, acting as guardians over the land and the living. In their presence he finds peace.
Shih Li’s WILD SPARROW is a film of radical dichotomies managing to juggle the meditative with the heart-wrenching, all placed against the rural and urban jungles of Taiwan. At its heart, the film is a transgenerational tableau depicting a fragmented family.
When the fateful day comes when Han’s local school closes down, his humble oasis is quickly replaced by the seedy, smoke-filled streets of Taipei. Ripped out of his comfort zone and supplanted into his mother’s harsh ecosystem, Han must look on as she struggles to provide in a world of toxic sexuality, abusive relationships, and self-inflicted hurt.
WILD SPARROW’s disorienting quietude comes from jolts of drama captured through the detached observations of a boy. But rather than unfeeling distance, Shih Li extends the utmost sensitivity to not only the son, but his mother too as they cycle through a tumultuous array of personal pain and adversity. In a scary world, sometimes it’s comforting to know someone is watching over you.