Directed by SUN-KYUNG YI
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 circumstances.