Skip to main content
BFI logo











Screenonline banner
Dim Sum (2002)

Courtesy of National Film and Television School

Main image of Dim Sum (2002)
Digibeta, 38 mins, colour
DirectorJane Wong
Production CompanyNational Film and Television School
ProducerJane Wong
PhotographyJon Driscoll

Documentary following three Chinese women working and living in Liverpool.

Show full synopsis

Dim Sum (2002) is a fine example of contemporary British Chinese filmmaking. Directed by Jane Wong, then a student at the National Film and Television School, it was shown at the 2002 Edinburgh Film Festival. In Cantonese, 'dim sum' (a selection of light dishes taken as a midday meal) literally means 'a little bit of heart', and this translation accurately describes its empathetic approach towards its subjects, three Chinese women.

The documentary charts the daily lives and routines of Wah So, Linda and the filmmaker's mother Marietta - showing Wah So shopping in Liverpool, Linda attending English lessons or all three women leisurely chatting to each other while preparing dim sum. This is a well-crafted documentary in its structure, pacing and narrative. The camera is unobtrusive, though when the filmmaker wants to involve and engage the women more she is not afraid to intervene and ask the questions.

The film also deals with mother-daughter relationships through the interaction between the filmmaker and her mother. Wong uncovers what many Chinese women of Marietta's generation experienced when moving to England - the struggle to learn a new language and start a new life while holding onto Chinese values. Wah So, the eldest of the three women, sees the tradition of marriage and having children as a necessary part of Chinese life. She is seen praying and cooking for her husband, and despite her unhappy marriage will not consider a divorce because this would be viewed as a shameful act. The contrast between the experiences of first and second generation British Chinese is vividly illustrated in this thoughtful film.

Pak Ling-Wan

Click titles to see or read more

Video Clips
1. Family tree (2:23)
2. Stew! (5:10)
3. English studies (1:40)
Liverpool: Sounds of the City