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Chinh Van Tran


Films with stories focusing on migrant and diasporic characters are important within the national cinema corpus to provide a realistic perspective on the migrant experience. These films are often united by their characters’ exile and displacement process and can be understood through the application of the Open, Closed, or Thirdspace chronotope, the last being a combination of the former two. In Lilting (2014), the director-writer Hong Khaou expresses his view on the topic through a story between a Chinese-Cambodian woman who is forced to live in a retirement home after her son’s death, and a British-born gay man in a relationship with the son who tries to establish communication with her despite them not sharing a common language. The filmmaker explores how these characters navigate through their new realities after the death of a shared loved one by using the concept of Thirdspace – particularly, in the depiction of physical spaces, language, and memory to express the characters’ displacement and struggle to negotiate their hybrid identities. Although the filmmaker follows typically found tropes of family conflict and sexual identity, his decision to give a resolution to both migrant and non-migrant characters by having them find acceptance in each other is a refreshing take on the topic and contributes an alternative to the establishment of a framework for a transcultural society.