No Crying at the Dinner Table
From an article by Word on the Streets
Carol Nguyen is a 22 year-old Vietnamese Canadian filmmaker based in Toronto and Montreal. Her films often explore the subjects of cultural identity, family and memory. Her most recent film “No Crying at the Dinner Table” premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival.
The film highlights the common stigma in Asian families against expressing emotional vulnerability as Carol interviews her own family. It presents a portrait of intergenerational trauma, grief, and secrets about things left unsaid. Of course, this can happen in many families.
Growing up, Carol was regularly told not to cry at the dinner table—hence the film’s title—and felt discouraged from overtly expressing sadness. “I learned how to cry silently, so that I would never get caught,” she said.
The film consists of single interviews with family members and exposes their private pains and the struggles to communicate. In Vietnam, the way parents express their love to children isn’t through physical intimacy and that lack becomes normal.
She then shows the interviews to her gathered family and finally her mother and sister began to cry, and her sister wrapped her arm around her mother. Since they worked on this documentary, she and her family members have started regularly saying “I love you” to one another.
Watch the 16 minute video here: