The Silk and the Flame

  • Jordan Schiele
  • China, United States
  • 2018
  • 87 min
  • Dutch Premiere
  • Best of Fests

Yao, in his thirties, works and lives in Beijing, where he earns the money that supports his parents and the families of his brother and sister back in their remote village. The US director Jordon Schiele, a friend of Yao’s, joins him on a visit to his family to celebrate New Year, and films a black and white portrait of the tense family dynamics.

The father has suffered a stroke, no longer speaks, and is entirely dependent on his wife’s care. The mother has been deaf since she was five, and expresses herself in her own sign language, which is only used within the family. Communication is incredibly difficult, but the unspoken expectation that Yao should marry weighs heavily on his shoulders. He only refers to his homosexuality in a long monologue, woven through the film, in which all we see are parts of his face as they are lit by his cigarette. Frankly he talks about the way his parents’ lives have been marked by Chinese history, the pressure to fulfill the wishes of others, and how easy it is to forget about your own needs.


  • 87 min
  • black and white
  • DCP
  • Spoken languages: Chinese, English
  • Subtitles in: English
Jordan Schiele
Jordan Schiele for Untitled Films
Jordan Schiele
Jordan Schiele
Li Feng

IDFA history

Dutch Premiere
Best of Fests

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IDFA history

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