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Love is no simple thing for a mother and the daughter she raised alone

The heartfelt short documentary Single Mother Only Daughter (2017) offers an intimate window into the relationship between the Los Angeles-based filmmaker Ellie Wen and her mother Fabienne Wen, who lives in Hong Kong. Centred on a phone call the two share after Ellie is in a car accident, their deeply personal conversation draws out the unique challenges that emerged from their dynamic as a single-mother and only-daughter duo. From how the sacrifices of motherhood affected Fabienne, to the impact her depression had on Ellie, no topic is off limits, no matter how difficult.

Archival footage from Ellie’s childhood provides glimpses of hers and Fabienne’s shared lives as they dance hand in hand, sing karaoke together and pose in front of a harbour on holiday. These snapshots and home videos of the happy times counterbalance the often challenging conversation that forms the voiceover, drawing out the inherent complexity and difficulties that even the most loving relationships can face. The film’s emotional resonance is grounded in their candidness as they confront difficult feelings with maturity and grace, which bridges the years between them, and highlights how open communication with a loved one can be a powerful antidote to life’s myriad difficulties.

Director: Ellie Wen