Best Film from PIFF, in my opinion-
"My Mongolian Mother"
The Korean War Baby thinks this was one of the best films. Dealing with the complex issues facing the Communist Party decisions were made that made sense at the time. In the '60s China experienced severe drought and famine that killed millions. Thousands of children were single and double orphans, or just abandoned by their destitute family members that survived but were unable to feed them. The State sent 3 thousand orphans from the streets of Shanghai to Inner Mongolia, to be adopted into the Nation. One group traveled by train to a community of simple herdsmen.
One of the central characters, Fu Sheng narrates his and other orphans stories, of their upheaval and loss of family. They find themselves packed onto a train, an orphan train on a long one way trip away from the city of Shanghai to the grassland Steppes. The film does not blame the system but explores the consequences and trials of some older children adjusting to such a complete change of life. For Fu Sheng it takes a while before he chooses to accept his Mongolian Mother.
The children are assembled in groups and the simple herdspeople go among them, choosing the children by affinity, children and parents drawn together. Everything is well documented by the community council though. Even the reasons for adopting was processed and carefully decided for the well-being of the children. (It seems that the Communist Party also supported the 'institution of adoption' as a solution to the social problems caused by the great famine.)
The boy's birth mother had been forced to tricked him, then left him alone in the open market. He was confused, fearful, and shocked, realizing that she did this on purpose. He is turned over to policemen and then into an orphanage run by the State.
How many other young children harbor such deep wounds and have turned inward their pain and suffering into both suicidal, or outward in pent up rage. The older a child is at the moment of abandonment, the more intense the effects and though memories are often suppressed later and even forgotten, the wounded child within may continue to be affected all their lives.
"I forgot my fears and longed to enter into their arms." In the one important key sequence, the film shows Grandma singing a song to calm the baby lamb, who's own mother had been killed by wild animals, to accept milk from another mother sheep who must ‘adopt’ it. It demonstrated to the boy his own condition, that the lamb was like him, it had lost its own mother and when the lamb finally begins to suckle, the analogy hits him hard. The boy sees himself in the situation and has an epiphany moment. "I was moved by the sound of her voice" laments the boy. The boys rushes to his Mongolian Mother, embracing her finally with acceptance. This film was so powerful and touches many issues about Adoption/ searching/ reunion.
Twenty years later, the State begins to reconnect families who want to make contact with children they gave up. China is in the 80's and some families want to welcome back their children. The former orphans must deal with all the hard issues of abandoning their Mongolian identity, adoptive families, and re-enter the fast modern world of Shanghai. Some choose to move to the city, with their birth families, some are unable and hate the indifference and prejudice of Chinese towards them. They 'look' like Chinese but are dressed and act, mentally and socially they are Children of the Mongolian Nation.
For the young man, he visits his birth family (both mother and father) and his adoptive sister, even brother who have moved to the city of Shanghai. He decides though that inside him, he is Mongolian, he will make a decision to go back and be with his adoptive mother. We see some of his friends who are also dealing with these difficult choices.
This film is NOT Pro-adoption nor is it Anti-adoption but rather explores social issues that are just as valid for any cross-cultural adoption. Watch for it coming to your city in a Film Festival.
I was moved to tears many times during this powerful movie that expresses so much the Korean Adoptees own experiences in all of the Spectrum of stories, a plethora of pain but also of Love. We see many aspects of both Birth family and Adoptive family faced with the issues of Searching, Reunion, Adoption Identity. GOT TO GET SEE IT.
The Korean War Baby TOTALLY ENDORCES “My Mongolian Mother”. FIVE STARS