Fata Morgana by Amelie Wen

A Chinese couple is forced to examine their marriage when they arrive in the United States for the funeral of their only child.

A grieving middle-aged Chinese couple has learned some devastating news: their only daughter has died.

Now they must go to the U.S. for the first time at their rawest, most difficult moment, dealing with their grief as they navigate organizing a funeral in a culture foreign to their own.

This sensitive, thoughtful short drama takes precise, careful care in constructing its resonant, well-layered story. Captured in tender images, the heart of the story rests on the character of the mother. In a remarkable performance by actor Mardy Ma, the mother navigates the film with a mix of vulnerability and strength. Well-educated but religious, she navigates the U.S. urban landscape of restaurants, shops, stores and businesses in a cloud of sorrow, dealing with condescension, incomprehension and subtle sexism.

As the film proceeds, the couple grapple not just with their unspeakable loss, but also with their own relationship and the trajectory of their lives, as shaped by one another and by social policies like China’s one-child rule.

The result is a richly poignant, touching, and quietly heartbreaking film about what it means to become unmoored by grief. This thoughtful drama never leans on histrionics to display its emotions, but its quiet tenor doesn’t lessen the impact of its deepest, most painful feelings when they do come to surface, resulting in a story that will haunt your thoughts long after it ends.

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