USA | 12 minutes | 2017
Drama short film by Desha Dauchan
Starring Tina Huang, Karla Mosley
Xin (“heart” in Mandarin) is the story of a woman haunted by the ghost of her mother after being her caregiver. With the help of her therapist, she tries to gain clarity on the nature of the hauntings. Are they urging her to perform the ultimate act of violence against her own father? Xin is a psychological drama/horror about surrender, grief and healing.
CineAsian Films (CAF): What inspired you to want to explore such a deeply emotional story?
Desha Dauchan (Director): When I read Tina’s beautiful script, I knew I had to say yes to direct this film. Xin beckoned me. Elaine is forever changed by her mother’s painful deterioration observed up close, as her caretaker in the face of her father’s abandonment. It’s so honest, and we deep dive to explore the impact of grief. I was grateful for the challenge to join the storytelling team of this deeply soulful and universal piece.
Tina Huang (Writer/Producer/Actor): My mother had recently passed away. I had been caring for her for 4 years. I was really struggling with the grief. One morning, feeling at a loss, I was compelled to get my experience outside of my body. So, I sat down in front of my computer and started writing it down. At first, it was an exercise to gain understanding of my grief which didn’t seem to follow the “stages of grief” I had been previously exposed to. But now, looking back, I see it was my first step to healing.
CAF: Xin deals with very sensitive topics. What were some of the more difficult challenges in making the film from an emotional and creative level?
Huang: The big challenges were wrestling with self-doubt, being so close to the story, the fear of hurting my family members and my grief itself. You think, “this is selfish” or “exploitative” somehow. “Who will want to watch this? Who might I hurt making this?” and then, someone I am close to reminded me that, “That’s what artists do, write what you know. Someone will connect. It may help someone feel less alone.” Writing Xin was scary, painful and yet, fulfilling and eventually healing. I am deeply grateful that I was surrounded by incredibly supportive collaborators like Desha Dauchan (Director), my producing partner who also plays Cheryl, Karla Mosley (Producer/Co-founder 1:1 Productions/Actor), and Chris Low (Director of Photography) who encouraged me to push through. Because I had so much trust in their connection to the piece and because we had created the space to have so many vulnerable conversations prior to the shoot, I knew I could rely on their distance from the story and their perspectives to guide me and the film. The whole production team and all the actors were truly fantastic in making this story of loss and grief come to life. Who knew that sharing with strangers and hearing their experiences at screenings was actually a key part in my own personal healing?
CAF: What do you hope people can take away from this beautiful story?
Huang: I hope people can relate to it. Be moved by it. I hope they feel seen. I hope they feel less alone. Grief is long and it’s messy but you will be okay. And if you need it, seek the help of a mental health professional. There’s no shame in that.
Dauchan: My hope is that audiences will recognize themselves in Elaine, freeing themselves to process grief with all the time they need.
CAF: Can we expect more powerful and emotional stories from you in the near future?
Huang: 1:1 Productions which Karla Mosley and I co-founded, champions women of color in front of and behind the camera. We have several projects out there and in the works. Some funny, some heartbreaking, some both. Personally, I am writing some other pieces ranging in genre and topic. So, yes, you can expect more.
Xin 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: Desha Dauchan
Writer: Tina Huang
Producers: Karla Mosley, Tina Huang, Felecia Hunter
Cinematographer: Chris Low
Editor: Romina Rey
Composers: Lizzy Loeb, Christina Loeb, Michael Garner
Also featuring: CiCi Lau, Jim Lau