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A son of China’s former one-child policy remembers the sibling he never had

Set in 1990s China, the Oscar-nominated short film Sister starts out as a lucid recollection of an unnamed male narrator’s childhood, recalling how he played, bonded and sometimes fought with his younger sister. But halfway through the story, the Chinese-born animator and director Siqi Song reveals the heartfelt message of her film as the narrator confesses that he in fact grew up alone like the vast majority of children born between 1979 and 2015 during China’s one-child policy. Through this split narrative structure, Song examines and evokes the loneliness felt by China’s generations of only children, as well as the policy’s emotional impact on couples forced into abortions. Using stop-motion animation and a nostalgic, desaturated colour scheme, the narrator’s fabricated memories are brought to life with charming, felted wool puppets. Told from the director’s unique perspective as a second child and sister herself, who, per the law, should not have existed, Sister is a poignant reflection on the enduring effects of China’s former one-child policy.

Director: Siqi Song

Website: Short of the Week

26 April 2022

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