Brief History of a Family 2024

Jia ting jian shi

Directed by Lin Jianjie Fresh

Equally mysterious and revealing, Lin Jianjie’s debut feature Brief History of a Family provides a dispassionate, almost analytical look into the dynamics of estranged family relations in contemporary China.

Aug 11

Hollywood Avondale

Aug 12

Hollywood Avondale

China In Mandarin with English subtitles
99 minutes Colour / DCP
NZ Classification TBC

Director, Screenplay


Lou Ying, Zheng Yue, Wang Yiwen


Zhang Jiahao


Per K. Kirkegaard

Production Designer

Xu Yao


Toke Brorson Odin


Zu Feng, Guo Keyu, Sun Xilun, Lin Muran


Sundance, Berlin, Hong Kong, Sydney 2024


Drawing inspiration from Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Theorem (1968), the surreal tale of a stranger seducing every member of one family, Lin dissects the unspoken and unacknowledged dissolution of a bourgeois household, as an inconspicuous intruder insinuates himself among its members and reawakens their suppressed individualities.

Set in an unidentified metropolis, Brief History of a Family opens on an incident at the high school yard, as introvert Shuo is hit by a basketball thrown by exuberant Wei. Feeling guilty, Wei invites Shuo to play video games at his house. Staying over for dinner with Wei’s parents, Shuo reveals that his mother is dead and hints at the abuse he receives at the hands of his often-drunk father. It is his first artful step to gain the empathy and the acceptance of Wei’s parents. Slowly but surely, Shuo spends more and more time at the affluent apartment, securing Wei’s parents’ trust, while stoking Wei’s jealousy.

With admirable narrative precision, Lin Jianjie tracks Shuo’s effortless manipulation, retaining an adroit and unfathomable ambiguity. At the same time, he observes his characters with a detached, almost scientific look, as if they were framed through the lens of a microscope. The result is a quietly thrilling investigation into the pretence undermining the pillars of a society. — Paolo Bertolin