For Siqi Song, the idea for her Oscar nominated animated short film, “Sister,” came about from getting asked the same question over and over while she was growing up in China. “They would always ask me, ‘What does it feel like to grow up with a sibling,'” she says in our recent webchat (watch the video above). She elaborates that it was definitely something that made her stand out among her peers. “I’m actually the second child of my family but most of my friends and peers that were born during the ’90s in China didn’t have siblings.” Having encountered this experience, she decided that that was something she wanted to explore in a short film.
Song received her first Oscar nomination in the Best Animated Short Film category for the short, “Sister.” The short examines a young boy and the complicated feelings he has towards his younger sister. She proves to be constantly annoying and getting him into trouble for things that she actually did. After exploring this, it’s revealed that the sister was never born since the boy’s mother was forced to undergo an abortion under China’s one-child policy, which has since been rescinded.
Song insists that the piece isn’t meant to send a message about abortion. “The message I tried to send with the film is mostly just about showing experiences because I was born in China living in a generation during the one-child policy period, we didn’t think that we could have a different life,” she explains. She elaborates further that the idea of not growing up alone is a completely foreign one to most Chinese people of her generation. Even though Song had a brother, because of the policy, she was not able to grow up with her family and was mainly raised at boarding schools.
In receiving her first Oscar nomination, Song describes the whole experience as something amazing. “I originally made this film for personal reasons. I wasn’t thinking about how the film would be received by the audience, I especially feel it encourages me to make more films like this.” Song also says that part of why she wanted to tell this story is because “we have never seen ourselves on the big screen, not just in animation but film-wise. There’s not a lot of films that tell stories from our side, our point-of-view.” So to get the recognition from the Academy for something that showed people like herself made the recognition all the more powerful.
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