DIRECTED BY SUN-KYUNG YI
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Echoes rests on the subject of international adoptions
from China. But it is an extraordinarily intuitive film
about the very essence of life, which is loss. Echoes
chronicles the experiences of mothers who represent three
distinct aspects of the story: A Chinese mother who
abandoned her baby; a white, middle-class North American
mother who adopted a Chinese girl; and a Canadian mother
preparing to ?pick up? her baby from China. Each one of
these mothers shares her experiences and struggles
reconciling the powerful emotions and ideas that both
abandonment and adoption, from an alien culture, entail.
Their stories come together into a seamless exploration of
the universal themes of mother and child, longing and
belonging, culture and identity. These women are bound
together, not necessarily by blood, but by their
inevitable and perhaps endless search for one another.
The film ?echoes? with unanswerable cries of loss and
anguish. Yet it raises the maternal ghosts of the present,
past and future with a cinematic precision. The imagery is
equally understated, yet so artfully shot and edited that
it both seduces us and heightens the sense of dislocation
and disconnectedness that is "Echoes" and life itself.
In her latest documentary film, Echoes, director Sun-Kyung
Yi continues the exploration of cultural and family
dynamics she began in Scenes From A Corner Store (1996),
Thai Girls (1998) and Inside the Hermit Kingdom (2005).
Like these films, Echoes, is about lives haunted by
dislocation and the dissonance created when cultures
merge. Yi?s own immigrant heritage informs all her work
with both the authority of her experience and the unerring
perception of someone used to living as an outsider to her
birth and host cultures.
Perhaps for the first time, we see and hear intimate
stories from the Chinese mothers who ?gave up? their
babies at birth. While this is still a sensitive subject
in China, these women were ready to speak up and let their
voices be heard after years of suffering in silence and
carrying the burden and the guilt of their action.
While there have been a number of documentary films
focusing on Chinese orphans adopted by Westerners, their
story is only a part of the narrative. This film provides
context for these highly charged cultural exchanges,
vividly contrasting the lives of mothers in China and in
the West, revealing at the same time the similarly complex
emotions and issues these women embody in their
dramatically different cultures and economic