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17 Oct 18:30

at Institute of Contemporary Arts

Guián (UK Premiere) + Q&A

Dir Nicole Chi Amén | Costa Rica | 2023 | 75min

Throughout Nicole Chi Amén’s personal documentary, Guián, we see her consider the meaning of home through her relationship with her grandmother – from where she grew up in Costa Rica, to her grandmother’s home in a village in Enping, China which she abandoned during the rise of Communism. Amén’s documentary is both a personal reflection on her relationship to her Guián (Enping for grandmother) and a portait of Chinese emigration in Costa Rica. The film is a love letter that stretches through time, imagining a dialogue between a grandmother and granddaughter who did not share a common language.

Weaving together interviews with those who knew her grandmother – from her grandmother’s best friend who emigrated to Costa Rica before her, to her younger brother to her children – Amén constructs a portrait of the Chinese-Costa Rican community, of the traces of her grandmother that still exist in the community who knew her. While learning more about her grandmother, she feels a pull to visit Engping where her grandmother grew up, to visit the house that she abandoned. Navigating a country that she doesn’t know, with a language she doesn’t speak, Amén confronts both her fantasies and desires for a culture she thought she knew.

Throughout the documentary, Amén is interested in how space constructs history – of the physical remnants of ‘home’. By focusing on the material constructions of a home – Amén considers what keeps us connected to the past. If her home in Costa Rica is demolished, if her grandmother’s is replaced, what will remain out of those ruins? In Chinese, ruin is translated as xu, a ‘void’ or an ‘emptiness’. In the current age of urbanisation, we see constant construction and destruction, of physical memories being replaced and erased. Amén seems to ask, how can we feel rooted on the edge of destruction?

( Text by Cici Peng )

Director bio

Nicole Chi is a Costa Rican-born Chinese director, currently based in Austin, Texas. She’s been recognized with awards like the Director's Guild of America’s Student Film Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement and AFS’s Texas New Voices. She was part of Talents Guadalajara and is a Fulbright Fellow. Her work has been selected in festivals like Visions du Réel, New Orleans, NYLFF, and SSFF & ASIA.

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