Canadian Film Fest ’23: Streams Flow from a River

In Streams Flow From A River, the Chow family is forced to revisit their family traumas and hurt when a snowstorm elongates what was supposed to be the adult kids’ quick stop at their childhood home.

This series explores what happens when those closest to you experience hurt at your hands. Even though Diana and Gordon Chow’s relationship starts off with good intentions, the mess from Gordon’s life affects her significantly, which causes her to react, which causes him to react, and when they have kids, causes them to act a certain way, which causes the kids to react, which causes them to react and over and over again.

There are also layers of reasons why the Chows function the way they do. As immigrants, Gordon and Diana are pushed to be frugal and more creative in how they make a living. But these hardships bring Gordon closer and closer to alcohol. At the same time, Diana’s devout churchgoing acts as an anchor for her but also as an escape from her marriage instead of facing its issues head on. Loretta is the oldest child – and only girl – which places more responsibility on her shoulders than her younger brother has to bear. Finally, Henry, who is often in the ‘peacemaker’ position, quietly struggles with how his already dysfunctional family will react to him being queer. Having some more background on the characters makes their decisions understandable – even forgivable – and yet the effects of said actions are no less powerful. By the end of the series, there is a recognition of the harm that was done, regardless of intent and only when that happens can the healing truly begin.

Avoidance always seems like a pretty good way to deal with conflict, especially when it’s with your family, but Streams Flow From A River asks us to look beyond ourselves in the now. In showing us the Chow family’s past, the series allows us to think about the future – how will our responses now affect those coming after us?

Streams Flow from a River is available at Canadian Film Fest ’23. For more information, click here.

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