An estranged daughter attempts to eulogize her mother with a story about pigeons.

Director’s Vision for ‘Mandarins’

Mandarins was inspired by the mothers and daughters in my life. I’m biracial and my connection to my Asian heritage has primarily been through my mom. Our relationship wasn’t always the best. Most of us can point to a period of time like this with our parents (particularly in those tumultuous teenage years), however I came to realize there was an added layer of cultural nuance there. In college, I finally matured enough to get curious. I started having conversations with my mom about her past. We became closer and I learned about the trauma she went through, not only as a Chinese woman born into poverty, but also at the hands of her own parents. The more I learned, the more I realized my experiences were not unique. My mom had seen the ghosts of forced illiteracy and foot binding in her mother’s eyes. My cousins had gone through their own journeys of healing with my aunts. Friends with immigrant parents had stories that echoed one another.

But Mandarins isn’t just a story about hurting and conflict. Despite the hardships the Chinese women in my life have faced, they remain fiercely loyal to their families and embody an unresolved, aching forgiveness. This film is an ode to the wonderfully imperfect women I’ve had the joy of growing up around and a love letter to a uniquely American culture where relocated communities gather in transformed spaces to preserve their heritage and history. Touching on the oft hidden, yet widespread issue of intergenerational trauma in immigrant communities, Mandarins imagines the path to forgiveness as a messy, awkward, and ultimately defiant act of vulnerability.