No Crying at the Dinner Table

  • Carol Nguyen
  • Canada
  • 2019
  • 16 min
  • International Premiere
  • IDFA Competition for Student Documentary

Carol Nguyen’s family can’t talk about emotions. At least not with each other. So Nguyen came up with an idea: she interviewed her father, mother and sister separately, and then had them listen to the recordings together.

The presence of the camera seems to break down emotional barriers in the reserved culture of this Vietnamese-Canadian family. Nguyen’s mother Ngoc talks about her lack of physical contact with her own parents. She only ever kissed her mother once, when she was very ill. Her daughter Michelle felt the same distance from her own parents. They were always working, so she was closer to her grandparents. Meanwhile, Nguyen’s father Thao struggles with an intense feeling of guilt because of a decision he made that had catastrophic consequences.

The three family members speak independently for about 15 minutes before sitting down together at the kitchen table referred to in the title. It’s a beautiful, cathartic conclusion, both for the family and for those watching. 

Credits

  • 16 min
  • color
  • DCP
  • Spoken languages: English, Vietnamese
  • Subtitles in: English
Director
Carol Nguyen
Production
Carol Nguyen for Concordia Film School
Cinematography
Walid Jabri
Editing
Carol Nguyen, Andres Solis
Sound
Giulio Trejo-Martinez

IDFA history

2019
International Premiere
IDFA Competition for Student Documentary

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IDFA history

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