In Theaters 12.16.2022 or Watch at Home 02.14.2023

Children of the Mist

Directed by Hà Lệ Diễm
Film Movement
92 Minutes
Hmong, Vietnamese
Documentary, Asian

In a village hidden in the mist-shrouded Northwest Vietnamese mountains resides an indigenous Hmong community, home to 12-year-old Di, part of the first generation of her people with access to formal education. A free spirit, Di happily recounts her experiences to Vietnamese filmmaker Diễm Hà Lệ, who planted herself within Di's family over the course of three years to document this unique coming of age. As Di grows older, her carefree childhood gives way to an impulsive and sensitive adolescence, a dangerous temperament for what will happen next; in this insular community, girls must still endure the controversial but accepted tradition of "bride kidnapping." One night, when the young girl's parents return home from celebrating the Lunar New Year, they are shocked to find their house is silent: Di has disappeared.

Winner of the Best Directing award at IDFA, Diễm's documentary is a tender portrait of a community on the cusp between tradition and modernity, and one girl tragically stuck in the middle.

Director & Cast

  • Director: Hà Lệ Diễm
  • Starring: Ma Thi Di




  • "Extraordinary... riveting... first-rate... beautifully presented...."
    Guy Lodge, Variety
  • "Top 20 Documentary of 2022. Children of the Mist is deceptively restrained in its first half, but that leads to a finale that’s raw in its pain and anguish. This is sobering filmmaking that illustrates a terrible injustice and the patriarchal attitudes that keep it thriving."
    Tim Grierson, Paste Magazine
  • "Diem’s intimate access and sensitive approach, together with editor Swann Dubus’ keen eye for texture and detail, make for a compelling and eye-opening drama."
    Nikki Baughan, Screen Daily
  • "[R]emarkable...quite extraordinary...this is a very special work, illuminating, educational and deeply, profoundly emotional."
    Paddy Mulholland, Spectrum Culture
  • "“Children of the Mist” is an excellent documentary that showcases an appalling phenomenon with brutal realism and through a rather artful approach."
    Panos Kotzathanasis, Asian Movie Pulse
  • "Shattering...thought-provoking...."
    Phuong Le, The Guardian
  • "[H]arrowing...Diễm’s fly-on-the-wall approach allows her to capture heart-wrenching moments...."
    Marya E. Gates,
  • "Diem is told not to interfere, but at one crucial moment, she must. It’s an upsetting scene, though one senses that without the presence of the camera, Di would have fared far worse."
    Beatrice Loayza, The New York Times
  • "[A]n empathetic and moving portrait of a fractured childhood...."
    Rob Aldam, Backseat Mafia
  • "[There is] no question about the skillful, artistically effective quality of this film."
    Chris Knipp, Writing: Movies
  • "For a Western audience, Children of the Mist does what a documentary should do. The filmmaker educates and entertains with a profoundly human story about the life of a young woman. Viewers will become invested in what happens to Di and learn about the Hmong tradition along the way."
    Bradley Gibson, Film Threat
  • "[F]ocused and heartfelt. [A]n engrossing, eye-opening and haunting doc that also serves as a poignant coming-of-age story. "
    NYC Movie Guru
  • "Beautifully shot, expertly edited, and brilliantly conceived, Children of the Mist is a stunning study of girlhood."
    J Paul Johnson, 25 Years Later
  • "Children of the Mist offers an exceptional treatment of a difficult subject, filled with as many lovely and humorous moments as painful and dramatic ones. The documentary is expert anthropology and cinema, combined."
    Christopher Reed, Hammer to Nail