A Holy Family
After 24 years of absence, director A-Liang Elvis Lu returns to his family in a rural area of southwestern Taiwan.
His elder brother, A-Zhi, has been recognized as a psychic in the village since the age of 12. Having set up a home altar with 12 Taoist deities since then, A-Zhi communicates deities’ advice to villagers on a donation basis; whereas A-Zhi helps believers make career decisions with his psychic readings, he repeatedly fails in his own entrepreneurial ventures in agriculture. The father of A-Liang and A-Zhi is a gambler who is addicted to an underground lottery and seeks celestial hints for good numbers even in the rising smoke of worshipping incense; he believes that the deities will one day show him lucky numbers to make him rich overnight. What holds the indebted family together is their mother. After 40-year marriage with her irresponsible husband, she is embittered in mind and increasingly enfeebled; the only consolation she finds is in their Taoist altar at home and a continuous stream of religious rituals performed there.
A-Liang, urged by his mother to finance the family whenever a bill ends up unpaid, disagrees with his family’s religious practices, superstitions, and blind beliefs in supposedly life-changing miracles. When he comes back home from the capital with a camera more than two decades later, he is forced to face his own trauma and grudges and starts to observe the intertwined emotions in his family from the perspective of a filmmaker. It is an intimate journey of home-coming, a portrait of rekindled family bonding despite differences in religious beliefs, and an unflinching tale of self-discovery through filmmaking.