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Sunday, October 17, 2021

‘All About My Sisters’ Review: Family Matters

Oftentimes, in Chinese filmmaker Wang Qiong’s documentary portrait of his family, All About My Sisters, you may forget that what you are watching is filtered through the camera. For seven years, Wang has removed her parents, siblings and relatives from the emotional thickets of their lives, capturing moments of intense personal intimacy. Her approach produces a film bristling with family animosity that usually only occurs behind closed doors.

There are many reasons to justify this bitterness, starting with the fact that Wang’s younger sister, Zhou Jin, was abandoned as a newborn before she was brought back and then passed on to her uncle for foster care. It was in the 1990s when the combination of China’s one-child policy and widespread cultural preference for sons had tragic consequences. As we learn over the course of the film’s epic (but impressively dynamic) three-hour arc, Jin’s story is one of the many stories of abandoned babies, gender-based abortions, and female infanticide that haunt Wang’s family history.

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Wang is neither a close observer nor an official interviewer, but an active participant in her scenes, often intervening gently from behind her handheld camera. “Have you ever thought that an induced abortion is terrible for little girls?” she asks her older sister Wang Li, whose husband desperately needs a male heir. Lee’s answer is simple but profound: “The world is also terrible for us. Every step is a risk. ” Sometimes Wang’s candor can be unsettling: I wondered about the ethics of her unflattering portrayal of Jin, who appears to be cruel to her little one, as if she is re-enacting her own trauma. At such moments, “All About My Sisters” unpleasantly balances between the personal and the political, showing how little it divides.

All about my sisters
Not rated. In Mandarin with subtitles. The duration of the performance is 2 hours 54 minutes. In theaters.

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