Mah Jong Orphan
1994, 44:54 minutes, colour, English
Mother/daughter relationships are special, but what happens when that relationship is compounded by a cultural gap? Mah Jong Orphan is the story of Suzan, born and raised in China and her Canadian-born daughter, Lilly. Though Suzan now lives a modern lifestyle in Canada, her values are still rooted in China. She raised her daughter in a traditional Chinese home, but Lilly, wanting to fit in with her friends, preferred to be Canadian. Torn between two worlds, neither one understanding the other's point of view, their clash of cultural values prevented them from developing a close mother /daughter bond.
The audience has the privilege of simultaneously sharing in Suzan's and Lilly's poignant and sometimes humorous discoveries about themselves and each other. The trust that developed between the director and the subjects allowed for a remarkable degree of honesty and intimacy. So revealing are these two in front of the camera that you may think you're watching a therapy session, not a documentary. Their difficulties transcend any particular culture or class and strike a collective nod of recognition amongst all immigrant families. It is a powerful documentary dealing with family relationships that provokes discussion each time it is viewed by audiences.
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