Families are complex and often contradictory groupings at the best of time, but when you add severe external pressures into the mix the many interrelationships can become far more complicated. Introduced by the Communist Party of China in the early 1980s, the ‘one-child’ policy was intended to combat rapid population growth. It was strictly policed over the next couple of decades, with local officials having some leeway in terms of enforcement.
The pressure to have a boy was palpable and girls were routinely discarded or abandoned; drowned in rivers, left in woods or simply dumped in the trash. Self-selective abortions, despite being illegal, were widespread and often DIY, with ‘repeat offenders’ threatened with sterilisation. This had a huge impact on 22-year-old Qiong Wang’s family. In All About My Sisters she delves into their history and looks at the continuing impact of tough decisions on their daily lives.
In All About My Sisters we’re introduced to Jin, Qiong’s younger sister who was abandoned as a baby by their parents. That decision has negatively impacted on her life. Like millions of young women across the country, she was taken in by another family, which (to complicate matters) happened to be Qiong’s uncle. All About My Sisters focuses on her troubles in the wider context of shifting familial dynamics. It’s a fascinating insight into a political decision which blighted generations and, whilst it is perhaps a little cumbersome, provides a rounded understanding of the complexities of life in modern China.
All About My Sisters screens at London Film Festival.