A Dire Strait

22 min, Family, Women, Thriller

Demi has stayed in bed for weeks due to the tradition "Zuo-Yue-Zi", in which Chinese people believe to heal the "broken body" of the post-labor women and help them produce the most nutritious milk. Although Demi tries to be as cooperative as possible, the weeks-long confinement and endless chicken soup push her to her limit. She desperately needs a break; however, just one misstep spirals into her worst nightmare...

Writer Director : Liang-Chun Lin

Producer : Taylor Poling

Cinematographer : Brandon Ng

Production Designer : Dazzy Shah

Sound Designer : Kevin Khor

Original Soundtrack : Shao-Ting Chang 

Editor : Apoorva Sankar

  • Seattle Asian American Festival

  • Final Girl Berlin

  • FilmQuest Fest

  • Fine Cut Film Festival finalist
    Broadcast on KCET at 10:00PM.

  • Catalina Film Festival

  • Cleveland International Film Festival

  • Fargo Film Festival -  HONORABLE MENTION

  • DisOrient Asian American Film Festival

  • Dallas International Film Festival

  • Dances With Films 

Taipei Times interview

This "dark comedy/thriller" is actually about a ritual that most postpartum Taiwanese and Chinese women still partake in: zuoyuezi (坐月子, sitting for one month), which is meant to help their "broken" bodies recover and produce the best quality milk for their newborn. Demi's captors are her in-laws, whose round-the-clock surveillance is driving her mad.

US-based Taiwanese director Lin Liang-chun (林亮君) says that while the film features the strictest version of the tradition and is partially based on what her mother went through, she's found that many younger mothers still go through similar restrictions. The COVID-19 pandemic's quarantine measures also served as inspiration, as more people are now able to empathize with the zuoyuezi experience of isolation.... HERE FOR THE FULL ARTICLE.

"Music by Shao-Ting Chang serves as a perfect complement for the film's unique rhythms. Brandon Ng's lensing is stark, uncomfortable, relentlessly intimate, and occasionally quite playful. Ng clearly knows what he's doing behind the camera and he plays everything perfectly here. Kudos also go Dazzy Shah for an atmospheric, immersive production design and to Apoorva Sankar for precise and imaginative editing that builds both the suspense and the emotional resonance of the 22-minute short.

A Dire Strait is early in its fest run but seems destined to capture some more prizes along its festival journey. Liao is definitely a face to watch for in the future. She's mostly made her name in shorts up to this point, however, her work here is impressive and I can't wait to see where she goes in the future.

Stark and disturbing, emotionally intense and strangely humorous, A Dire Strait is a unique, inspired film that you could check out if it shows up at a festival near you." 

The Independent Critic Richard Propes HERE FOR THE FULL REVIEW