By Markus Hoeckner | Drama
A young Hmong woman wants to live with her boyfriend, but struggles to leave her mother.

A young Hmong-American woman lives at home with her mother and a group of nieces and nephews. Her mother works long hours at her job, so her daughter picks up the slack with housework and childcare, balancing those chores with her own job. Her one bright spot in life is her hope to move out into a new apartment with her boyfriend.

When he finds a perfect apartment for them to move into and the dream can become a reality, the daughter must confront her loyalties between her family of origin and her desire for her own life.

Written and directed by Markus Hoeckner, this sensitive short drama captures the daily life and rhythms of a young woman who longs to strike out for a life on her own terms but is wrangled into more traditional roles and expectations at home.

Told with a perceptive eye for the unspoken and slice-of-life naturalism, viewers are offered an intimacy into this character's life and the subterranean yet significant conflict between the life she wants for herself and her obligations to others.

What's remarkable is how the film has no real male character onscreen, but it portrays the daughter's home life as still very traditional. That sense of tradition is held up by the mother, who expects her daughter to take the brunt of the work at home, even when the daughter alludes to the lack of balance and the absent fathers of the children in the home. The daughter also cares for people as part of her job. She can never get away from the endless toil, with only her phone, texts from her boyfriend and dreams of a place of her own as her outlet.

Actor Starlight Sheng Thao's subtle yet precise performance captures the increasing toll of the persistent press of caring that pulls at her. She has very little dialogue, but even her muted, stoic demeanor expresses flickers of excitement when she sees pictures of a possible apartment her boyfriend texts her. But she also feels the pull of love, loyalty and perhaps resentment when faced with the reality of her increasingly worn-down mother and the fractious home she has to help care for, making whatever choice the daughter makes especially heartbreaking.

The final scene of "Ntxhais (Daughter)" features the mother and daughter sitting side-by-side and the mother complaining after a long day of work. It especially encapsulates the tangled web of emotions, tradition and values that forms the core of filial piety, a virtue espoused in many Asian cultures, though the film has a universality that makes it very recognizable to anyone who has struggled between family loyalty and independence. There is sympathy and love; there is also a self-defeating sadness and guilt, as the daughter makes her pivotal choice. Viewers might feel, in the end, that the daughter is on her way to that self-sacrificing, worn-down future reflected in her mother, as she takes her place in the continuum of tradition, resigned to delaying her dreams and wishes yet again.

You Might Also Like:


By Oliver Goodrum | Drama
A man who bullied a disabled girl tries to escape his past. Then an angry mob finds him.


By Candice Carella | Drama
A single mother leaves her young daughter with a rock musician uncle.


By Richard Prendergast | Drama
A single mother takes her family on a road trip. But it's to an unwanted destination.

Second Best

By Alyssa McClelland | Comedy
Twin sisters turn into rivals when one's gymnastics career steals the spotlight.

No More Wings

By Abraham Adeyemi | Drama
2 friends meet at their favorite fried chicken shop. But their lives have diverged.


By Gokalp Gonen | Animation
A man is trapped on a spaceship after his robot overseer finds every planet uninhabitable.

Feeling Through (Oscars)

By Doug Roland | Drama
A homeless teen meets a deaf-blind man who changes his life forever...


By Hadley Hillel | Drama
A man's suicide attempt rips a hole in the ceiling. Then he befriends the boy upstairs.

Dig Your Own Grave

By Kirk Larsen | Comedy
A man is forced to dig his own grave in the desert. But the ground is hard.

Call Connect

By Josiah Allen and Indianna Bell | Drama
A young helpline operator takes her first call and gets more than she expected.

More Than God

By Kev Cahill | Comedy
A devoted husband suspects his wife is cheating on him. Then he hides under the bed.

Welcome to Iron Knob

By Dave Wade | Comedy
A young boy accidentally shoots a stranger and the town tries to cover it up.


By Erika Davis-Marsh | Romance
A young dancer falls for a deaf guy, then tries to find her place in the world.

Toni With an I

By Marco Alessi | Drama
An awkward girl doesn't fit in at school. Then the Internet comes to save her.

The Things You Think I'm Thinking

By Sherren Lee | Drama
A burn-survivor goes on his first date after his accident.

Your favorite short films you haven't seen yet.

Inspiring and insightful. Entertaining and enlightening.
That's what you can expect here: no fluff. Just a steady
stream of the best films delivered to your inbox.