Personal and political histories are ever-present in the story of Mrs. Nguyên (Minh Châu), who returns to her hometown to spread the ashes of her estranged husband and to reconnect with her niece, Vân (Hà Phuong). Yet Vân harbors resentment against Mrs. Nguyên—a mother figure to the orphaned young woman—for her long absence, complicating this homecoming and dredging up a difficult past. As the older woman traverses the familiar yet increasingly alien environs of her past, she has the companionship of Cu Li, the pygmy slow loris her deceased spouse left her, whose impossibly wide, glassy eyes become a reflection for characters caught in a half-dreamscape. Shot in a pristine black-and-white that offers immersive realism one moment and a fairy-tale shimmer the next, Cu Li Never Cries is a tender yet commanding feature debut for Pham Ngoc Lân in which the legacies of Vietnamese history are written on its characters’ uncertain futures. Winner of the Best First Feature prize at the 2024 Berlin Film Festival.