High in the mountains of North Vietnam, the Hmong community is isolated from the rest of the world as much by their ancient traditions as by the dense rolling mists. For her debut feature, Vietnamese filmmaker Hà Lệ Diễm spent three years in the community, documenting teenager Di as she finds herself torn between her desire for education and a life outside the village, and the pressures of cultural values that view young women as commodities to be sold for high dowries. Diem’s intimate access and sensitive approach, together with editor Swann Dubus’ keen eye for texture and detail, make for a compelling and eye-opening drama.
Nikki Baughan, Screen Daily
12-year-old Di is not easily parted from her phone — her window onto a world far bigger and more modern than her remote rural village in the mountains of north Vietnam — where underage marriage for girls like Di is a longstanding local custom. On the brink of such a wedding herself, she attempts to reconcile what she knows of 21st-century feminism with a normalized family tradition, giving rise to internal and community conflicts that Hà Lệ Diễm’s first-rate documentary Children of the Mist parses with even-handed intelligence and complexity. — [The film has] a clear, radiantly expressive heroine in Di, who must prove her maturity in order to be a child again. Few coming-of-age protagonists have ever faced such an impossible arc.
Guy Lodge, Variety