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All in My Family

Movie review by
Brian Costello, Common Sense Media
All in My Family Movie Poster Image
Honest docu on coming out to a traditional Chinese family.
  • NR
  • 2019
  • 40 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The importance of being true to oneself, even if it may run counter to the values of family members. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

As director of his own "coming out" story, Hao Wu doesn't flinch from the challenges of revealing that he's gay to his traditional and socially conservative Chinese family, as he and his partner begin their new lives as parents of two children. 

Violence
Sex

Movie is about coming out as gay.

Language

Infrequent profanity: "bulls--t," "damn." 

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some beer drinking at family gatherings. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that All in My Family is a short 2019 documentary about a Chinese filmmaker trying to come out as gay to his traditional and socially conservative extended family. While the documentary is centered on a specific family and culture, director Hao Wu's honest presentation of the apprehensions faced when trying to be true to yourself despite fearing the possible lack of acceptance from beloved relatives could inspire discussion -- particularly between LGBTQ parents and/or kids -- about the real challenges in "coming out" to more conservative family members. In terms of content, there's infrequent profanity ("bulls--t") and some drinking. 

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What's the story?

Hao Wu explains in ALL IN MY FAMILY that while growing up in China, he knew that he was somehow "different" from those around him. As he began to realize that he was gay, he had no support or understanding of it except for a textbook that claimed that homosexuality was a form of mental illness. As soon as he could do so, Wu relocated to America, where he was free to be exactly who he was. Wu later came out to his immediate family, and while they continued to love him, Wu's homosexuality was particularly difficult for his mother, a domineering and opinionated woman who had no real conception of homosexuality. However, Wu never came out of the closet to his extended family, including his grandfather, who frequently exhorts Wu to find a woman to be his wife, settle down, and have children. Against this conservative cultural backdrop, Wu and his partner are about to be the parents of two children in the wombs of surrogate mothers. As Wu navigates the challenges of being a new father, as well as the demands of his overbearing parents, he must find a way to reveal who he really is to his extended family. 

Is it any good?

On the surface, this short documentary is a coming out story, but it turns out to be so much more. While All in My Family chronicles filmmaker Hao Wu's attempts at coming out to his extended family -- including an elderly grandfather who continues to exhort Wu to find the right woman, marry her, and have kids -- what emerges is that some things will never change. Wu doesn't shy away from the complexities inherent in being a gay man in a very traditional family and a socially conservative culture, and the exasperation, frustration, and apprehension Wu feels is evident throughout. However, the love this family feels for one another, as complex and challenging as that love may be from time to time, also comes through.

The documentary manages to convey so much in such a short time. It would be easy to imagine less skilled (or more narcissistic) filmmakers trying to pad this story into a feature-length documentary. Wu, however, keeps the documentary tightly focused, allowing the family members to reveal who they are without stepping in unless necessary to provide context. The honesty in the presentation is what makes this a standout documentary. Wu is unafraid to show how vulnerable he really is in this situation, and the result is a candid glimpse into a family trying to make sense of each other. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about documentaries centered on the lives of LGBTQ people. How was Hao Wu's story similar to or different from other documentaries discussing LGBTQ issues? 

  • What would be the challenges in filming one's own family members for a documentary like All in My Family

  • How did Wu use a combination of interviews and real-time footage to reveal the personalities and opinions of his family members? 

Movie details

For kids who love LGBTQ stories

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