Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

"Sister is packed full of character yet retains its melancholy edge throughout."

Childhood memories are often fuzzy - some more so than most. Siqi Song's Oscar-nominated animated short recalls a film that was briefly in the running for the long form award, This Magnificent Cake. Both use disarmingly cute felted and fraying puppetry to tell stories with challenging political subtexts.

Our hero in this case is a man reflecting on the conflicts and resentments of childhood, the commonplace struggles of family life in which nothing ever quite goes the way it's supposed to - and yet nothing is quite what it seems. Every little detail, from squabbling over the TV remote control to planting a lost tooth and watering it has, from the outset, an intensity of focus that suggests there will be a tragic aspect to this tale. Nevertheless, there's a liveliness to it, punctuated as it is by moments of magical realism, childhood imagination finding inventive solutions to seemingly intractable problems.

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Realised in soft black and white with just a hint of pink to highlight its title character, Sister is packed full of character yet retains its melancholy edge throughout. It's a simple take on complex ideas, looking at life as a child sees it, but its voice carries weight all the same.

Reviewed on: 24 Jan 2020
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Sister packshot
A man thinks back to his childhood memories of growing up with an annoying little sister in China in the 1990s. What would his life have been like if things had gone differently?

Director: Siqi Song

Writer: Siqi Song

Starring: Liu Bingyang

Year: 2019

Runtime: 8 minutes

Country: China, US


Sundance 2022

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