Midway through writing his latest film, “The Falls,” Taiwanese filmmaker Chung Mong-hong decided to add a role reversal, in which a child is the one taking care of her sick parent.
“In the first draft, actually, it was the daughter that was ill. At that time, I thought there were so many stories talking about parents taking care of their kids, and that kind of story isn’t really attractive to me,” Chung told Variety‘s Peter Debruge and Variety FYC Fest, sponsored by TAICCA.
Similar to his last feature, “A Sun,” where the central dynamic is between a mother and her two sons, “The Falls” chronicles the life of 17-year-old Xiao Jing (Gingle Wang), who goes back home to live with her mother (Alyssa Chia) during the pandemic. Xiao’s school is sent home to quarantine after a classmate tests positive for COVID-19, and her mother is asked to take a leave of absence from her job.
What was once a luxury apartment for the two women now looks isolated under a blue tarp while undergoing renovation. Chung noted the symbolism of the tarp, shown throughout the majority of the film, as it relates to the pandemic.
“When I was walking around in [my] community, I noticed this house covered with a blue tarp like a monster,” Chung said. “It looked like the house was covered in a huge face mask, and I started to imagine that people living inside would be trapped and suffocated under the face mask. I started to envision: What if this mother and daughter, who lived inside this building, couldn’t escape this space ever?”
Watch the full interview above.
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