STARRY STARRY NIGHT
Directed by Tom Shu-yu Lin
Official Selection, 2011 Busan International Film Festival
13-year-old Mei is getting old enough to understand. That her parents’ home is full of beautiful French impressionist art, but is missing the warmth of family. That Jay, the scrawny kid bullied at school, may be an outcast, but is no more a loner than Mei. That all things must come to end: her parents’ marriage, her grandfather’s life, and indeed childhood itself.
With the world closing in, Mei looks to the expansive out-there mapped by the starry, starry night, leading to an unforgettable adventure into the woods with Jay in tow. Tom Shu-yu Lin (Winds of September, SDAFF ’09) directs the best film adaptation to date of a Jimmy Liao illustrated novel, capturing exquisitely the sublimity of Liao’s fantasy worlds, the feeling of smallness of people in their wondrous environments, and the boundless heart that keeps the characters’ curiosities charging against the winds of loneliness.
A cast of veterans leads the way – singer-actors Rene Liu and Harlem Yu as Mei’s jaded parents, Hong Kong legend Kenneth Tsang as a gentle grandfather. But it is Xu Jiao (the boy from CJ7) who is the heart of the film as Mei, a wide-eyed forager of remnants of a childhood slipping away: puzzle pieces, origami animals, imaginary friends. She’s scared and hesitant, but has a budding boldness that helps her shape her own destiny between Taiwan and the west, between reality and fantasy, between innocence and experimentation. Tom Lin captures the inner world of a 13-year-old with great sincerity and honesty, and colors that world with delicate, magical strokes we’ve never quite seen before. –Brian Hu
Cast: Xu Jiao, Rene Liu, Lin Hui-min, Kenneth Tsang