Small Talk explores a taboo topic that’s loomed large over the director’s personal life. By KEVIN MA導演黃惠偵藉《日常對話》來面對私人生活中一個重大的禁忌。撰文：馬樂民
FOR MANY FAMILIES, the dinner table is about more than sharing meals; it’s a space for communication. For director Huang Hui-chen, the dinner table is where she had one of the most important conversations of her life.
The first Taiwanese film to win a LGBTIQ-themed Teddy Award at the Berlin International Film Festival, Small Talk is a documentary about Huang’s mother A-nu, a lesbian and a Taoist priestess who presides over funerals. Although mother and daughter live under the same roof, their relationship is one of silence and superficial acknowledgement of each other’s presence. Huang picked up the camera in hope of mending their relationship – but don’t expect a warm and fuzzy film.
Huang has the advantage of full access to her subject. The cameras show A-nu at work and at home with Huang’s young daughter, and they even capture interviews with A-nu’s girlfriends, both past and present. Conversations about A-nu’s sexuality are mostly casual and at times humorous. The only obstacles appear when Huang interviews A-nu’s siblings, who vehemently refuse to talk about A-nu’s sexuality even though they imply that they’re accepting of it.
The toughest conversations in the film happen in Huang’s home, when she asks her mother about her place in society, how she raised her children and her marriage to an abusive husband who she left two decades ago. The film’s most intense moment comes when Huang finally reveals the secret that drove her to make the film. A-nu remains the strong, silent type through the scene, but the tears she sheds speak louder than words.
On screen, A-nu seems baffled and even annoyed about being in front of the camera. Fortunately, Huang says that A-nu liked the film so much that she asked for free tickets so that she could show it to her friends. Making Small Talk may have been an emotionally painful ordeal, but it was an act of catharsis and reconciliation that was over two decades in the making.
Lift the haze Huang Hui- chen confronts her mother in Small Talk 驅散陰霾黃惠偵在《日常對話》中與自己的母親傾情相對