Sixth and final pic out of the fest gate in Hong Kong-based Focus Films’ DV series First Cuts, “My Mother Is a Belly Dancer” is a surprisingly downbeat study of a bunch of women in a public-housing estate who find liberation from their dreary lives by taking belly dancing classes. Mining the same vein of personal liberation as comedies like “The Full Monty” and “Calendar Girls” yet working-class Cantonese to its fingertips, film will travel less than arty entry “Rain Dogs” and crowdpleasing caper-comedy “Crazy Stone.” Middle-aged Asian auds may respond.
Applying for a traditional Chinese dance class in a public services leisure program, some “aunties” find the course has been changed to belly dancing. Most say they won’t partake of such a “sluttish” activity — apart from a band of rebels including Mrs. Wong (Kristal Tin), a laid-off garbage collector who still pretends to clock in, shy friend Mrs. Chan (Amy Chum) and Mrs. Lee (Sydney). Belly-dancing sequences are rather haphazardly inserted, but perfs are colorful and contain an underlying warmth. However, script lacks a clear dramatic structure to sustain interest beyond patches. DV-to-35mm transfer is excellent.