THE SILENT TEACHER
Directed by Maso Chen
Taiwan / 2017 / Documentary, Drama / 73 mins / Mandarin, Taiwanese with English subtitles / HD
Official Selection, 2017 Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Film Festival
Taiwanese tradition stresses that a body be kept whole after death. As a result, medical schools in the country do not receive enough cadaver donations for their students. Luckily for one medical school, Hsu Yu-e decided long ago to donate her body after she passes.
Sadly, that day has come. THE SILENT TEACHER observes the two-year journey of a family and a medical school, when a long embalming process corresponds to a husband’s extended grief, but also the strength and hope he finds in her post-mortem contribution as a “silent teacher.” Because there is no funeral, the family doesn’t know where her spirit is. The husband travels frequently up the island to visit and comfort her body in Taipei. His optimism throughout is a startling but uplifting beacon of light through a uniquely painful period in their lives. Meanwhile, the medical students prepare their own rituals of gratitude.
Maso Chen’s incredibly moving documentary calls for us to treat human beings with respect not only after they have died, but also while they are living. We can’t know what happens after we go, but we can still do some good in the world before, and after, we are gone. –James Paguyo
Text source and photocredit: San Diego - Asian Film Festival