The Hoosier Films Annual Festival will be held online Sept. 3-6, 2020. For schedules and more information on the other films playing, visit the official festival site.

Mama Yen

Xiaoyen (Yen) Hoang, or “Mama Yen,” is a a cook in one of the University of Notre Dame’s cafeterias. Mama Yen, a short documentary about her, was completed during Jiale Hu’s senior year at the university. It focuses on Yen’s journey to her life in South Bend, Ind. At age 13, she fled the war in Vietnam and, over time, came to call the Midwest home. Despite having settled here, she still retains and celebrates her heritage. One way in which she does so is through the food she prepares.

Credit to Hu for creating a short documentary shot so well, and so willing to give her subject a platform on which to speak. The topics flow naturally from one subject to another. The war, Yen’s father, her first boyfriend, her experience as a refugee in Hong Kong, and her current community in South Bend. Food helps bind these topics together. Shots taken while Yen is working at the cafeteria remind the audience that Yen’s story — immediately compelling and told with a fully empathetic perspective — is one often glossed over or forgotten in the everyday bustle of a busy college campus. Everybody has a story. Sometimes all it takes is a little listening.

Reason for the Season

Reason for the Season is a fun short about the truth behind Santa, Jesus and the spirit of Christmas. It’s a silly, absurdist romp. To speak any deeper about its peculiar story would be to ruin the fun of its many strange twists and turns.