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Richmond director explores ‘silent reconciliation’ in VAFF film

Understanding and connecting can start at an emotional level, says Richmond resident

“Learning to understand and find common ground during arguments in an Asian family is a starting point for silent reconciliation.”

This is the message Richmond director and resident Meng Li is trying to share in her film “Water Roots,” which premiered on Nov. 4 at the 27th annual Vancouver Asian Fim Festival (VAFF).

"Silent reconciliation," Li explained, is the moment when Asian families come to a shared understanding after a disagreement without any verbal affirmation.

Li’s film explores the concept through the lens of Sherry, the daughter of a second-generation Chinese immigrant, as she and her father process their grief over her mother’s death overseas.

Meanwhile, Sherry and her father clash over her love for a career in history and his preference for a more stable career.

“In Asian families, it’s common to avoid arguments because they create conflict and it’s uncomfortable,” said Li.

“What I want people to understand is family members can have the power to choose different pathways and different lifestyles.”

Li told the Richmond News that, spoiler alert, the film ends with the pair bonding over shared grief and sadness despite their different beliefs.

“Sharing emotions and connecting on an emotional level is the first step in this reconciliation or understanding with our family and with our culture,” said Li.

Barbara Lee, executive director of VAFF, said the festival had its biggest program to celebrate local filmmakers this year.

“It’s always an exciting 10 days of the year where Asian representation is elevated and celebrated as well as for people to really see themselves authentically shown alongside their stories,” said Lee.

“Sometimes telling these stories but there’s no one to listen can be demoralizing, so having an audience just as excited as filmmakers at the festival every year is important.”

To end the festival this year, Lee said the public is invited to take part in a free day of panel discussions, lunch meet and greet with film workers and a roundtable workshop starting at noon on Nov. 12 at the Vancouver Film School, School of Animation at 151 West Cordova St. in Vancouver.

While the event is free, registration is preferred at [email protected].

For more information, click here.

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