FATA MORGANA

FATA MORGANA A Drama Short Films



Inspired by true events, a grieving couple is forced to examine their marriage when they journey from China to the United States for the funeral for their only child.

'Fata Morgana' is this week's Staff Pick Premiere!

Written & Directed by Amelie Wen

Death is never straightforward. Its effects reverberate through loved ones, acquaintances, and beyond. Each person experiences grief differently, but often times it can be a reckoning for one’s own life. For filmmaker Amelie Wen, she encountered death when a college friend was gravely injured in a skiing accident and fell into a deep coma. Before her friend passed, Wen visited her family in the hospital and was profoundly touched by the tremendous care and dignity with which the parents handled their loss and grief. That moment shaped Wen and was the inspiration for her acclaimed AFI thesis film and this week’s Staff Pick Premiere, “Fata Morgana.”

Opening on a middle-aged Chinese couple after they’ve learned about the death of their only daughter, Wen’s camera lingers on the emotions etched into their faces. It is the couple’s first time in the United States, and the challenges of organizing funeral rites and dealing with cultural differences amidst their grief start to unravel them. Remarkably assured, the film captures poignant moments and subtle shifts in the couple with an astounding realism. The short is told mostly from the perspective of the mother (played by Mardy Ma), in part because she speaks English, whereas her husband does not, but also because Wen’s film attempts to address the many contradictions of the modern educated Chinese woman. Ma’s character is the crux of the film; she has the most agency, because of her education, but is also the most constricted because of her traditional religious beliefs. It is the examination of these elements that makes the film: the quiet way she is patronized for her funeral wishes, the subtle sexism of not being handed the restaurant bill, and the complex emotions of addressing China’s one-child policy.

The title “Fata Morgana” perfectly captures those contradictions with a bit of magical realist flair. It references a specific type of mirage, where a narrow band develops just above the horizon giving the illusion of floating objects, buildings, or landscapes. This distortion of reality is an apt metaphor for the sorrow following a death. Uprooted from their reality, the couple drifts from a jeweler to a crematorium to a restaurant searching for answers in their customs and beliefs, but instead are confronted with the realities of urban American culture. What ostensibly begins as a film about the death of a child and the process to send her to rest quietly transforms into an examination of a couple’s relationship and their own lives. “We see the shadow when there is light,” Wen says. “Likewise, we understand death through the eyes of the living.” For Wen, this was always the way she wanted to handle the story — to explore not the death itself, but how family and friends handle grief in very different and personal ways. It’s a powerful film and one that will continue to reverberate well after it ends.

FATA MORGANA A Drama Short Films amelie wen

AWARDS:

Spirit Award -- Brooklyn Film Festival 2016, USA
Student Film Award -- Hamptons International Film Festival 2016, USA
Grand Jury Prize for Student Short Films -- Dallas International Film Festival 2016, USA
Excellence in Short Filmmaking -- Asian American International Film Festival 2016, USA
Best International Short Film -- MoliseCinema Film Festival 2016, Italy
New Directors New Visions Award -- Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival 2016, USA
Board of Directors' Award -- North Carolina Film Festival 2016, USA
First Prize in Student Narrative Category -- Golden Rooster Awards 2016, China
Best Actress Award -- Film Lab Festival 2016, Italy
Best International Short -- Samyak International Short Film and Documentary Festival 2016, India
Best Actress Award -- HyperFest 2016, Romania
Best Narrative Short -- Queens World Film Festival 2017, USA

OFFICIAL SELECTIONS:

AFI Fest 2016, USA
Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival 2016, France
Palm Springs International ShortFest 2016, USA
Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival 2016, USA
Flickers' Rhode Island International Film Festival 2016, USA
Heartland Film Festival 2016, USA
Hamptons International Film Festival 2016, USA
Flickerfest's International Short Film Festival 2017, Australia
Molise Cinema Film Festival 2016, Italy
Brooklyn Film Festival 2016, USA
LA Shorts Fest 2016, USA
Aesthetica Short Film Festival 2016, UK
Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival 2016, USA
Holly Shorts Film Festival 2016, USA
Ismailia International Film Festival for Shorts and Documentaries 2016, Egypt
Dallas International Film Festival 2016, USA
Boston International Film Festival 2016, USA
Le Court Nous Tient 2016, France
Asian American International Film Festival 2016, USA
Tangier International Film Festival 2016, Morocco
Festival Internacional de Escuelas de Cine 2016, Uruguay
Calgary International Film Festival 2016, Canada
CAA Moebius Film Festival 2016, USA
AFMA Film Festival of Young Cinema 2016, USA
Cine Gear Expo Film Series 2016, USA
First Step Film Festival 2016, Albania
American Film Festival 2016, Poland
FeSanCor Chilean International Short Film Festival 2016, Chile
Film Lab Festival 2016, Italy
North Carolina Film Festival 2016, USA
Denver Film Festival 2016, USA
金鸡百花电影节 Golden Rooster Awards 2016, China
丝绸之路电影节 Silk Road International Film Festival 2016, China
Lviv International Short Film Festival Wiz-Art, Ukraine
Objectifs Centre for Photography and Film, Singapore
华语青年影像论坛 Chinese Young Generations Film Forum, China
Samyak International Short Film and Documentary Festival 2016, India
Hyperion International Student Film Festival 2016, Romania
Jogja - NETPAC Asian Film Festival 2016, Indonesia
成都国际短片电影节 Chengdu International Short Film Week 2016, China
厦门双栖影展 Xia Men Amphibia Film Festival 2016, China
北美华人导演短片展 North America Chinese Directors Short Film Tour 2016, USA/China
Mediterranean Film Festival Cannes 2016, France
Stuttgart Filmwinter 2017, Germany
Colortape International Film Festival 2017, Australia
Queens World Film Festival 2017, US
Dona I Cinema - Mujer y Cine - Woman & Film Festival 2017, Spain
Cyprus International Motion Festival 2017, Cyprus
Akbank Short Film Festival 2017, Turkey
ClujShorts International Film Festival 2017, Romania
MEDIAWAVE - ANOTHER CONNECTION International Film Festival 2017, Hungry
International Film Festival of Uruguay 2017, Uruguay

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