Children of the Mist (2021)
Những đứa trẻ trong sương
Directed by Diem Ha Le
2021 ♦ 92 minutes ♦ Vietnam
Hmong & Vietnamese with English subtitles
DI is a 13-year-old girl living in a village lost in the mist of North Vietnamese mountains. She is fortunate in that she is part of the first generation of kids whom have the opportunity to have access to education, but she must convince her parents that studying is not a waste of time and money. If she can’t achieve this challenge, she would be trapped in the village her entire life, “just like a frog in a well”.
DI belongs to the Hmong ethnic minority, where traditionally women get married very young, some of them from the early age of 12. In this society, marriage is linked to a very particular and controversial tradition: the “bride-kidnapping”. When a boy is interested in a girl, he organizes her kidnapping before forcing her back to his own home. In some occasions this process turns pretty dangerous and dark. When DI enters puberty, her personality has changed drastically: the carefree little girl has turned into an impetuous, hypersensitive teenager. She often has arguments with her mother who is trying to forbid her to have reckless relationships. Her mother worries that her daughter could be harmed or mistreated and won't have enough maturity to handle the situation.
On the Lunar New Year's Eve, when DI's parents come back home after celebrating, the house is silent and empty: DI has disappeared.
Her mother broke in tears realising that her daughter had been kidnapped: this may signify the end of DI's childhood and the beginning of her life as a woman.