Children of the Mist

Directed by Hà Lệ Diễm
Film Movement
2021
92 Minutes
Vietnam
Hmong, Vietnamese
Documentary, Asian
Asian Studies, Coming of Age, Women Directors, Women's Studies, Sociology & Social Work, Indigenous Peoples, Sex & Sexuality
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PPR $200.00
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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.

"Children of the Mist packs a major punch. The documentary begins as a pensive and beautiful slice-of-life-style ethnography, following Di from her life and work on the family farm to school and back again. We watch children play and families work the fields before we move on to the controversial practice of bride kidnapping. Around the film’s midpoint Di goes missing, and her once-peaceful life is thrown into chaos as the cultural pressures drive her family to push her to accept the marriage. Even when she refuses, her captor’s family shows up in a show of intimidation. The Vietnamese state steps in after a point, alerted by school authorities, explaining the monetary, legal, and criminal consequences for following through with the forced child marriage. There are moments of beauty and visceral horror to be found in Children of the Mist. Those studying Asian cultures or interested in international human rights will be most interested in viewing this title. Highly Recommended." - Video Librarian

"It’s said that a film is made in the editing room, and most of the time for documentaries this rings true as the filmmaker never truly knows that which will unfold. The opposite seems to be the case here. If Diem went into this with the goal of capturing topics around women’s oppression in the Hmong community, then she’s to be commended for choosing her timing and subject perfectly. Children of the Mist is a timeless, deeply educational, moving piece of cinema. Highly Recommended." - The Sound View

Cast

  • Ma Thi Di
DVD Features

Bonus feature:

Q & A with director Hà Lệ Diễm at DCTV's Firehouse Cinema

Discs: 1

  • Highest Rating
    "Extraordinary... riveting... first-rate... beautifully presented...."
    Guy Lodge, Variety
  • Highest Rating
    "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
  • Highest Rating
    "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
  • Highest Rating
    "[R]emarkable...quite extraordinary...this is a very special work, illuminating, educational and deeply, profoundly emotional."
    Paddy Mulholland, Spectrum Culture
  • Highest Rating
    "“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
  • Highest Rating
    "Shattering...thought-provoking...."
    Phuong Le, The Guardian
  • Highest Rating
    "[H]arrowing...Diễm’s fly-on-the-wall approach allows her to capture heart-wrenching moments...."
    Marya E. Gates, RogerEbert.com
  • Highest Rating
    "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
  • Highest Rating
    "[A]n empathetic and moving portrait of a fractured childhood...."
    Rob Aldam, Backseat Mafia
  • Highest Rating
    "[There is] no question about the skillful, artistically effective quality of this film."
    Chris Knipp, Writing: Movies
  • Highest Rating
    "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
  • Highest Rating
    "[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
  • Highest Rating
    "Beautifully shot, expertly edited, and brilliantly conceived, Children of the Mist is a stunning study of girlhood."
    J Paul Johnson, 25 Years Later
  • Highest Rating
    "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

Gallery

Awards & Recognition

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