USA | 4 minutes | 2020
Drama short film by Xiaochen Huang
Starring Janice Blue, Brian Hwu
Lunar New Year
Chinese title: 春节
Wu, a Chinese language student, relives the events that led to the departure of her classmate and soulmate, Lee.
CineAsian Films (CAF): What inspired you to explore a tender story like Lunar New Year?
Xiaochen Huang: Lunar New Year is two of my experiences combined. It all happened when I was 18 years old. I moved from China to a small town near San Francisco to attend a language school before college. Because of the language barrier and the fear of living alone for the first time, I stopped interacting with anyone. It was the loneliest year of my life. I spent my birthday and every holiday by myself. Back home, my family got together and ate dumplings to celebrate Lunar New Year. While I heated frozen dumplings from the market and ate them in my small apartment. I wanted to call my family and friends, but I hadn’t set up my internet yet. For the first time in my life, I felt completely helpless, not knowing how many similar days I could take.
Later, I met a Taiwanese guy in my school. We got along very well, and I really liked him. But whenever I confessed my love to him, he told me he was gay. I didn’t believe him because of how he treated me. We both knew that we were going to separate when the language program ended. I thought that was the reason he lied to me. I kept my expectations and hopes at the bottom of my heart and kept allowing myself to get closer to him. He used to visit my apartment and stay over on the weekends. We would go on short trips and cook together. He knew all my habits and flaws.
Lunar New Year is the ending of our story. He went back to Taiwan and left a letter and many post-it notes to remind me to take care of myself. I will never know if he had a feeling for me beyond friendship. But our time together will always be a precious memory to me.
CAF: What were some of the biggest challenges you faced during production?
Huang: Since it’s a very personal story, it takes me a long time to turn it into a script and have the courage to show people. It was also my first time directing, so even if I worked on others’ sets, I was still very nervous to direct. I wasn’t sure how to express myself and help the crew see my vision. I was unsure of what to say to my actors so they could understand the characters’ feelings. However, I appreciated how my friends pushed and encouraged me back then. Even if there are things that could improve and I would like to change, I’m glad I kicked off my directing career with this film.
CAF: What do you hope people can take away from watching this film?
Huang: The movie is to encourage people who are suffering from loneliness, heartbreak and frustration. People abandoned by a very important person, spending a busy holiday alone, or moving to a new place without knowing anyone. But for every person that’s experiencing this, there is someone else who’s getting over it, surpassing all problems. I want to tell anybody who’s going through something similar to know they are not alone. Don’t lose hope, because once the time comes, it will all become a precious experience.
CAF: Are you working on any new projects right now?
Huang: I just finished another short. It’s in the post right now. It’s called Fallen_Angel_2005. The story is about a 7-year-old Chinese girl, Ru, who lives in a broken home with strange relatives and tries to make friends online under the username ‘Fallen_Angel_2005.’ But she discovers that the internet is a dangerous place, and the strangers in chat rooms are not who they say.
Currently, I’m writing a feature. It’s an extension of Lunar New Year titled While I Have You, but more focused on the love story. The story is about LGBTQ+ characters, unreachable love, and adolescents adjusting to adult life.
Lunar New Year is one of the many great projects shared with CineAsian Films through our submissions process. If you’d like to join them, submit your film.
Director, Writer, Editor, Executive Producer: Xiaochen Huang
Producer, cinematographer, colorist: Carlo Tonda
Co-executive producers: Max Woods, Carson Berti
Composer: Jacob Eliett
Voiceover: Jerry Lee