HANG IN THERE, KIDS!
Directed by Laha Mebow
Taiwan’s foreign-language film submission, 2017 Academy Awards
Grand Prize, Best Director, 2016 Taipei Film Festival
A humorous and family-friendly coming-of-age film, HANG IN THERE, KIDS! gives us the childhood hijinks and emotional tender points of Watan, Chen Hao, and Lin Shan, three aboriginal boys who ditch school, hunt for animals, grapple with family struggles, and take a life-changing school trip to Taipei where they confront personal demons and dreams.
HANG IN THERE, KIDS! effortlessly weaves the textures and concerns of everyday life in an aboriginal community with heart and charm. The child actors are easygoing and true, at turns wily, hilarious, tempestuous, and vulnerable. The adults capture some of the turmoil underneath the surface – an angelic after-school teacher with a waylaid singing career after an accident left her wheelchair-bound, an alcoholic father who tears apart his family with every drunken episode, a loving single dad who cannot soften a mother’s abandonment of her child. And there is generous affection and intimacy not usually seen on screen, brothers sleeping entwined in bed, father gingerly applying ointment to his child, a grandmother who forgives wholeheartedly even in silence.
Appropriately, Laha Mebow gives the greatest cinematic presence to the land – expansive, bountiful, and protective, the wide shots of rolling hills and plateaus do more than provide a lovely backdrop. The land quietly surrounds the stories with quintessential aboriginal stakes and the heart of Watan’s brother’s dilemma: whether to lease out the ancestral lands in the face of money troubles. HANG IN THERE brings us fireworks, ones that may not outshine flashier large-scale productions from Taipei, but are greater for their heart and their roots, the land to which the characters can endlessly return and always claim as home. –Christina Ree
Writer: Laha Mebow
Starring: Albee Huang, Sharon Kao