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Directed by Wang Qiong

Official Selection, 2021 New York Film Festival

The autobiographical family-secrets doc tradition gains a canonical new entry with Wang Qiong’s confrontational inquiry into China’s one-child policy, which investigates its effect on her family.

Qiong barrages her mother, father, brother, and two sisters—one of whom, Jin, was raised by her uncle after being abandoned—with the kind of impatient questioning only an intimate could excuse. A portrait of two childhoods emerges from the proceedings: Wang’s relatively comfortable village life and Jin’s countryside toil. Probing the facts for feelings of guilt and resentment, the filmmaker is forced to face her own role as a participant, gracefully and inevitably failing to maintain an observer’s distance.

Moments of traumatic recall interweave with quiet moments at home, or in the family store, as Qiong’s father reluctantly opens up about Jin’s abandonment. Meanwhile, Jin raises her own son. In between moments of revelation, a filmmaker silently comes to terms with how decisions outside her control have come to shape her identity.

—Inney Prakash

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