By Don Simpson | October 13, 2011
Director: Yu-Hsiu Camille Chen
Writer: Yu-Hsiu Camille Chen
Starring: Nicola Bartlett, James Hagan, Nina Deasley, Melanie Munt, Arielle Gray, Scott Jackson
Susan’s (Nicola Bartlett) cancer is back and this time the matriarch has been diagnosed as terminal. Her husband, James (James Hagan), is an actor who has repeatedly chosen his career over the raising of their three — now grown — daughters. So when Susan informs James that she is dying, she is not looking for sympathy; she just wants to make sure that he understands that he will now have to step up and become a parent to their daughters. Susan’s motherly concerns are truly justified as Nina (Nina Deasley), Anna (Melanie Munt) and Christine (Arielle Gray) are all at critically emotional junctures in their lives.
The oldest daughter, Nina (Nina Deasley), is raising two children on her own. Her alcoholic husband died five years ago and she has always taken care of someone else while totally neglecting herself. Anna (Melanie Munt) is a struggling actress who is married to a filmmaker, Mark (Scott Jackson). Their marriage is on the rocks because Mark refuses to give Anna a role in his upcoming film and he avoids all discussions on the topic of having children with her. Needless to say, Anna is having an affair — unfortunately — with a married man. Christine (Arielle Gray) is the youngest daughter; she is a medical school student and still lives at home. Christine has been struggling with her sexuality ever since her childhood; she has recently found someone who truly loves her, but her remaining challenge is to come out to her family.
Written and directed by Yu-Hsin Camille Chen, Little Sparrows unfolds in a series of chapters, each providing backstory on Susan’s three daughters. The common thread of the narrative includes the family’s final Christmas together as well as each daughter’s visit to their mother during her waning days in the hospital. Susan takes full advantage of her final moments spent with her daughters by giving them much needed advice, boosting their self-confidence, and reinforcing how much she loves them.
Little Sparrows is a well-balanced and sublimely acted dramatic film about women who are attempting to [re]define and empower themselves as independent beings. First-time filmmaker Chen focuses primarily on the importance of love and unconditional support, as well as the notion of bucking up and taking responsibility for one’s own life. Film Movement recently released Little Sparrows on DVD, accompanied by an animated short film by directors Martin Wallner and Stephen Leuchtenberg (with voice work by Ian McKellen and Joseph Fiennes), A Lost And Found Box Of Human Sensation.