Be With You

A son tries to get his father back from the retirement home after he realizes how important his father is to him and his family.

Creative team

Writer: Tian Wang
Director: Evan Yifan Ning
Producer: Sophia Sun

Filmmaker’s statement

I first came up with the idea when I was chatting with a screenwriter who has been living in Toronto for more than 10 years. He knew many stories about immigrants in North America, especially how different generations shared different cultures.

He told a story about a 70-year-old Chinese man who immigrated to Canada and moved into his son’s house. His son married a western woman. One day, the old man helped wash glasses but didn’t wipe them clean. He left fingerprints and water drops. This made his daughter-in-law upset. After that, the old man was always worried about it. So every time he finished washing dishes, he had to stand in the sunlight and carefully wipe them clean. This made his son guilty.

According to Chinese traditional culture, children should take care of their parents when they get older. They always take parents into their house, and look after them. This is called ‘yanglao.’ This inspired me to write a story about the conflicts between western and Chinese cultures.

Toronto is a city for old people, [and] there are a large amount of Chinese people living here. Thus ‘yanglao’ has become a hot topic.

Many Chinese people immigrate to this city and settle here. They buy large houses, get married and have their own children. And then they take their parents into their home, with the hope of taking care of their lives. If you ask a Chinese person how to define the word ‘home,’ they’ll say home is a house where [both] old people and children live.

In contrast, people in the west live in a totally different way. When children get older, they move out. When parents get older, they move into a retirement home. But for Chinese people, this is considered hugely disrespectful towards parents.

And this is even more prominent in a transnational marriage. How should they treat parents? Should they send parents to a retirement home or take care of them themselves? This is how the film starts.

Due to language barriers and cultural differences, the Chinese father and his daughter-in-law have a lot of conflicts when living in the same house. The daughter is so stressed that she suggests sending the father to a retirement home.

In the film, the son plays a very important role. He is the bridge connecting the western and Chinese cultures. His ignorance deepens the misunderstanding between his father and his wife.

The film is not to answer the question of whether people should send their parents to retirement homes or not, but aims to appeal to the audience and have them reflect and consider whether they pay enough attention to the older generation.

It’s natural that immigrated parents will be uncomfortable living in a strange place. They are so vulnerable, they not only need material help but also emotional care.

About Evan Yifan Ning

Evan Yifan Ning

Evan Yifan Ning is a filmmaker and CSC associate member. He started his career as a filmmaker in 2008 after he moved to Toronto.

As a photographer and cinematographer, Evan’s work focuses on conflicted people and human rights. His first short film, The Choice, follows a policeman who has been ordered to suppress religious people as he struggles between obeying the order and morality.

He is currently working on another film inspired by the true events of organ harvesting in China.

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