Director – Chan Kam-hei – 2015 – Hong Kong – Cert. N/C 15+ – 24m
A schoolgirl pretends to be a boy at home because her mother can’t deal with her being a girl – online and Free To View in the UK in the Fresh Wave short films strand of Focus Hong Kong 2021 from Tuesday, February 9th to Monday, February 15th
Teenager Nam takes off a feminine top and changes into his/her boy’s school uniform. As a boy, s/he calls in on her grandpa to pick up a plate, waiting ’til she’s out of sight of the house to dispose of the contents in a dumpster, then proceeds home to where her mother has turned the apartment upside down ina hunt for earring. Her mother is only interested in her own looks. Does she look okay? He likes me in earrings, she says.
At night, Nam sneaks round to her friend’s, a boy who lets her wash her smalls – bra, knickers – in bowls in his bedsit sink. Only at thisa point does it become clear Nam is a she. She helps him with homework. He jokes, asking her to move I with him or can he walk her home.
She finds young loan sharks trashing the apartment because “your dad owes us lots of money.” After they’ve gone, the boy appears and tells her he can’t stand it – he’s sinking under the debt, no matter what he does. He’s going to move out next week. He’s hoping she’ll come with him. She won’t. When she next visits, all that will be left will be one of her bras left for her hidden in a paper bag.
This is really difficult material from which writer-director Chan and co-writer Wong Wing-yiu never shy away at all. The narrative is occasionally hard to follow, but the sense of chaos and of characters trying to maintain some sense of normality (whatever THAT might be) within it is quite overwhelming. Not to mention heartbreaking. Chan’s voice here is a distinctive one from which one hopes to hear more in future.
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