Taiwan | 2018 | 115 min | Mandarin
Featuring a complex, multi-linear narrative, Father to Son focuses on 60-year-old Van Pao-Te, an amateur inventor and hardware shop owner who discovers he has a life-threatening disease. Rather than concentrating on his illness, he embarks on a trip from his native Taiwan to Japan—with his son in tow—in search of the father who abandoned him in his youth. Organised by chapters, the plot drifts between past and present and intertwines three generations of memories, with stories unfurling between the family-owned workshop, a laundromat and an old hotel—locations apparently connected by Van Pao-Te’s secret past. Concurrently, a young man from Hong Kong, who is himself somehow connected to Van Pao-Te, arrives in Taiwan and begins his own journey of reconciliation.
Born in 1967, Hsiao Ya-Chuan is a graduate of the National Taiwan University of Arts. His previous features are Mirror Image (2000) and Taipei Exchanges (2010). Hsiao also directed Something’s Gotta Give, a segment of the 2012 anthology film 10+10. “The origin of Father to Son comes from two aspects that join in a single path,” Hsiao says. “I’m a father now, and I have a father. I wanted to join the stories of my ancestry and my daughter. The second reference is Taiwan’s own history. The main objective of my film is joining both aspects.” He adds, “I understand life in a way in which 90% of our existence is already determined by our history, but there’s 10% left in which we can alter our destiny. The representation of that 10% is maybe what can make the film more complicated.”