JANUARY 19, 2023
CAN | 13 minutes | 2020
Drama short film directed by Ashley Yeung
Starring Cindy Kao, Leslie Kwan
For copyright purposes, the film requires a password for viewing.
A Family Act
After being away from her childhood home Riley temporarily returns to Vancouver to stay with her brother upon the death of a distant relative. The film centres around Riley’s relationship with her brother and the tension that surfaces after being apart from the family and culture she grew up in. Throughout the course of the film Riley struggles with understanding her identity as a second generation Chinese-Canadian, a distinction she only comes to realize after leaving home and returning.
A Family Act, directed by Ashley Yeung, is a very real exploration of the Chinese diaspora experience and identity and family. The film follows Riley, who returns home to Vancouver upon the death of a relative after being away for some time.
Riley stays with her brother, Levi, and as they spend more time together, tensions begin to surface. She has been away from her family and the culture she grew up in for some time, and it’s led to her struggling to understand and come to terms with her own identity as a second-generation Chinese-Canadian. This is a common struggle in search of identity and belonging that many Chinese, and by extension Asian, diaspora have to deal with as we exist in the world between our Asian cultures & customs and Western values.
Though quiet and simplistic in execution, the film does an excellent job in capturing the intensity of unspoken tensions between siblings and tells a universal story of family.
Family has always meant one thing to me – as a single concept that defined everything in my life. Every action, every thought, every aspect of who I was became a reflection of my family. To be Chinese was to be a part of a unit. That was the understanding that my siblings and I were raised within. We were never to question those who came before us because we had what we had for a reason; our parents, our grandparents, and every member of our family worked hard for us so that we would never know their struggles. To question a history that gave us this privilege was to disrespect family and the sacrifices they made for us.
However, for many Chinese born Canadians we share two unique perspectives. These distinct perspectives makes it hard for us to blindly follow traditional Chinese values without question as we are simultaneously influenced by Westernized values. We straddle the line between two distinct cultures, never feeling a part of one that makes a whole but rather, our identity as defined in two parts. This story is every part about family as it is about individual identity; furthermore, what does it mean to be an individual in a community that is defined as a unit? A Family Act is a story that has unfolded because of the questions I was never supposed to ask.
Riley, the main character of the film, embodies the inner conflict that many Chinese born Canadians face. She returns to her childhood home after being away for school, temporarily returning to Vancouver to stay with her brother Levi upon the death of a distant relative. The film focuses on Riley but largely centres around the relationship between Riley and her brother and the tension that surfaces after being apart from the family and culture she grew up in. Throughout the course of the film Riley struggles with understanding her identity as a second generation Chinese-Canadian, a distinction she only comes to realize after having left home.
This story, although envisioned through the lens of a Chinese-Canadian, is universal in the stories it tells of family. This story is every bit Chinese as it is Canadian.
– Ashley Yeung
A Family Act is one of the many great projects shared with CineAsian Films through our submissions process. If you’d like to join them, submit your project.
Director, Writer: Ashley Yeung
Producer: Hân Phạm
Cinematographer: Selina Repole
Also featuring: Sharmaine Yeoh, Wynn Siu