ACF Asian Cinema Fund

Asian Network of Documentary(AND) Fund

2019 Asian Network of Documentary (AND) Fund

LIST Dear Mother, I Meant to Write about Death (aka People′s Hospital)
Category BIFF Mecenat Fund
Project Dear Mother, I Meant to Write about Death (aka People′s Hospital)
Director CHEN Siyi
Country China
Director's Profile Siyi Chen is a documentary filmmaker from China. She received a B.A. in World History and Chinese Literature (dual degree) from Peking University (Beijing) and a M.A. in News and Documentary from New York University. She has produced, shot, and edited dozens of short web docs that have appeared on Quartz, CNN and PBS. Among her works, Chen documented a pioneering artificial intelligence experiment in a Chinese nursing home, covered the thriving new industry of paid cuddling in the US, and profiled an amateur roboticist from Hong Kong who spent $50,000 and three years building a extremely life-like robotic “Scarlett Johansson.” People’s Hospital (Working Title) is Chen’s feature documentary debut.
My mother was the first person in her village to go to college. She picked medicine because she wanted to help people like her grandfather and her villagers who suffered due to the lack of medical resources. However, she didn’t anticipate that doctors -- who were once heroes of the Socialist era -- would become villains in modern China: patients and doctors are turned against each other and violence happens in Chinese hospitals. As a journalist and as a daughter, I went back to my ′childhood playground′ - the hospital where my mother still works, to find out what went wrong. My camera witnesses how doctors distance themselves from the pain of patients as a coping mechanism. As I feel my mother’s despair, I also question, is she still the hero I saw growing up? But before I could get an answer, things took an unexpected turn: my mother was diagnosed of breast cancer. As we′re forced to be on the other side of the “war”, we reflect deeper on the bond between doctors and patient...
Director's Note
Growing up as the daughter of a doctor, I always thought of patients as the "bad guys". They were aggressive, emotional and hard to reason with. Things started to change after I had my first surgery in college. The frustration and pain made me realize, for the first time, the vulnerability of patients. Now, going through cancer treatment with my mother helps me further understand the struggles of patients. They already have the law of nature against them! Now they’re up against a broken system, too. I want to share this extremely personal journey with everyone, this shift of perspectives. I want to make this journey into a meditation on caregiving: how are we taking care of the sick? Where are we failing? What creates that sacred bond between caregivers and those being cared for? What happens when that bond is broken and how do we rebuild that?
2022 Busan International Film Festival - Wide Angle_Documentary Competition
2022 International Documentary Festival Amsterdam
2023 Asian American International Film Festival
Still Cut