“Just because he wasn’t a good father to us, doesn’t mean we have to be bad sons to him.” This is a line from Brothers and Men written by Kelvin Ke Jinde, an assistant professor from the Department of Media and Communication, whose script won the Best Short Script at the Swedish International Film Festival 2022.
Writing during the pandemic, the award is beyond his expectation. “I was quite surprised when they told me that I won the Best Script award, in general, as writers we write in our own time and space, no one really knows the hard work and emotions that we put into our work.”
“It is always a good feeling that my work is recognized by someone else and it is a great booster and encouragement for me. I’m deeply and extremely grateful to the judges for the award.”
The script explores the relationship between two brothers, Malcolm Wong and Jacob Wong, and their father, Henry Wong, who’s suffering from Alzheimer's.
The two brothers pick Henry up from the old folks home to celebrate his 70th birthday while Henry’s unexpected behaviour triggered the review of the family relationships and painful memories of these two brothers.
“The story is partly based on some of my personal experiences in terms of my relationship with my father and brother,” says Kelvin Ke.
But the main inspiration came from his conversation with male friends who had difficult and violent relationships with their fathers and fellow siblings.
Family relationship has long been a controversial topic globally, especially in Asia where the majority of families have a rigid hierarchy and most parents have absolute control and power over their children.
A challenging relationship between children and their parents is not rare. “We all have difficult relationships in our lives, especially between sons and fathers, maybe even between mothers and daughters,” says Kelvin Ke.
“I must say that the story is not autobiographical. It is made up of fragments of reality and personal feelings about the difficult relationship between fathers and sons.”
The climax of the script is one scene in which the two brothers, Malcolm and Jacob had a serious verbal battle regarding whether they should tell father the truth that his home has been sold when old Henry insisted to go back home.
Malcolm has no intention to protect old Henry’s feelings, in his line to Jacob: “You think he is a victim? Our father, our real father without dementia is not a very nice man…I remember you stood in front of him and get the beating because you were protecting me. I remember when you woke up in the morning, I saw your blood on the bed.”
Unlike Malcolm, Jacob has a great sense of responsibility as he thinks it is a son’s duty to take care of Henry. In one line, he says it doesn’t mean he could be a bad son just because Henry is not a good father.
The negotiation reflects different attitudes toward the understanding of boyhood, love, and forgiveness.
“If there is anything I want to say, it is that sometimes, even though it is difficult and tough for us to do, maybe forgiveness is important,” says Kelvin Ke.
“I’m not saying that love is always the answer. Because sometimes, our memories and experiences are just too painful but at least, let’s try for forgiveness. I think that is what I hope to share with the reader.”
Recently, the documentary Shengsheng (声生), produced by Kelvin Ke and directed by Dr Hui Miao, has been selected for the official competition in the 5th Meihodo International Youth Visual Media Festival and Shanghai International Short Week. Kelvin Ke is currently busy preparing for his next project with XJTLU Museum for an intangible cultural heritage art show that is to be held during the second half of 2023.
By Ying Jiang