A parent’s love for their child is powerful and yet sometimes misguided, even under the best of intentions. Hanxiong Bo’s Drifting spotlights the love of parents and its consequences under the extreme conditions of China’s One Child Policy.
In an attempt to control its exponential population explosion, China instituted its One Child Policy. It stated that a family could only have one child otherwise experience hefty fines and loss of privileges (see One Child Nation). For Yan, his parents took extreme measures by passing their son off as a girl and taking the place of their actual first-born daughter, who lives in anonymity in the country.
“…passing their son off as a girl and taking the place of their actual first-born daughter…”
Bo’s short film jumps back and forth to Yan’s childhood and teen years. As a child, the family is visited by government officials checking in on the family’s “daughter.” Jump to teenhood, Yan experiences gender confusion from within and bullying from without, all while his parents regret their decision.
Bo uses metaphors to express Yan’s emotional turmoil, primarily through his fascination with drifting in his car as it symbolizes the sense of not being in control of your feelings. Drifting ends in sort of a dream-iike state as the family comes to terms with being a family.
What Hanxiong Bo does so beautifully in Drifting is to evoke emotions within us using artfully crafted moments on screen allowing us to empathize with the decision of Yan’s parents, with Yan’s confusion and helplessness, and finally with a parent’s love for their child. He shows that life is not easy, and neither are the choices we make as parents…except the choice to love.
"…to express Yan’s emotional turmoil, primarily through his fascination with drifting in his car…"