The past 2 years have been a whirlwind of emotions – international borders were shut, travel stopped, we worked from home, businesses went bankrupt, restaurants closed, hospitals reached capacity, and the most difficult and heartbreaking of all, is being indefinitely isolated and separated from our loved ones.
The uncertainty and painful longing we have been struggling with during these unprecedented times were powerfully articulated and portrayed through award-winning director Kay Niuyue Zhang’s short film Mother in the Mist (2021), which turned heads at the American Pavilion Emerging Filmmaker Showcase at the 75th Festival de Cannes Village International.
The Tale of a Fallen City
The film takes us right to the heart of Wuhan, China at the height of the most catastrophic period that has abruptly disrupted the lives of its inhabitants. While it is notoriously known as the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, we forget the fact that it is home to 11 million residents who are also affected by this devastating occurrence. As a native of Wuhan, Zhang felt a responsibility to give a voice and share the plight of the people, especially her loved ones, as her hometown went into lockdown.
Mother in the Mist (2021) was inspired by a true story and it gives us a look into the life of a rural single mother who embarked on a grueling journey to reunite with her premature newborn child, Snowie, just hours away from the citywide lockdown. Unable to fathom the reality of being separated from her child due to the restrictions, she went against all odds to bring her home. Along the way, she met a little girl who was also desperate to see her mother whom she lost in the city. Together, they served as each other’s companions as they brave through the obstacles.
Aside from the superb direction, astounding performances, and captivating cinematography, what truly sets this film apart is its universal and powerful message of how a mother’s unconditional love will always triumph, especially during times of crisis. The film never fell short of emotional and touching moments that would make you feel seen and understood – a much-needed support and consolation considering the fact that many of us had not seen nor embraced our loved ones in such a long time.
The story comfortingly reminds us that our family is the most important part of our lives and that they will stop at nothing to protect us and give us a life worth living. Appreciating their unwavering sacrifices, courage, and love is the least we could do. Not to mention, it also reassures the audience that we are not alone in this journey and that there will always be light and a renewed sense of hope after the storm passes. We only need to remain steadfast and strong until the end. Through this story, Zhang hoped to shed light on the harrowing events that transpired in her hometown and honor her people for their bravery during this difficult time as well as to show that they are also mothers, fathers, daughters, and sons like us and not the disruptive people that the world has unjustly depicted them to be.
The positive impact and success of Mother in the Mist (2021) are evident in the numerous official selections and awards that the film and director garnered in international film festivals including Best Women Student Filmmaker Grand Prize Award Winner at the 27th Annual DGA Student Film Awards, the San Diego International Film Festival Official Selection 2021, the 58th Golden Horse Awards Live Action Short Film – Semi-Finalist, Mao International Film Week (Guangzhou, China) – Best director Award Winner among others.
Mother in the Mist (2021) is currently going through its festival run. You can catch the film on June 14th at the 25th Dances with Film Festival in Los Angeles.
CULTURE (counter, pop, and otherwise) and the people who shape it.