Official Selection, 2021 Visions du Réel
Taiwanese Argentine filmmaker Juan Martín Hsu’s THE MOON REPRESENTS MY HEART takes Teresa Teng’s beloved 1977 song as the titular emblem of his longing gaze: we (and he) watch his mother sing it——twice, once with guitar and once with karaoke. She has moved back to Taiwan, and Hsu visits to investigate the circumstances of his father’s murder in Argentina, where Hsu was born and still lives. Over the course of the film, traversing two trips seven years apart——chronicling tourist excursions, trips to shrines, and endless conversations over beer and cigarettes——other, overlapping stories are revealed: of the long shadow of the White Terror, of the alienation and grit of a Taiwanese immigrant in Argentina, and of the families we create when ours have been broken.
A diasporic dislocation frays the fabric of the film. Everything is in translation, including maté infomercials and Madonna’s “Don’t Cry For Me, Argentina” encountered in the Taiwanese landscape. Loosely-related, scripted scenes flicker in and out. Hsu steeps his viewer in an open-ended narrative terrain, where the past is cobbled together through intercontinental, inter-generational family stories, public histories, and fiction, pausing in moments that dwell in ambivalent desire——for a way to be closer to his mother, to measure the gap between countries, histories, and lives that, while intersecting, are so distant from one another. “You two wouldn’t be able to spend ‘la vida’ in Taiwan,” Hsu’s mother says to her two sons, “Just like your mum couldn’t spend ‘la vida’ in Argentina.”
Monday, November 1, 2021