Experiencing Interruptions?


Suzie, a Chinese immigrant girl, is suffering from insomnia. One night, when Suzie is almost asleep, she is awakened by the sound coming from her grandmother's room.

  • Siqi Zhang
  • Siqi Zhang
  • Yuhan Zhu
  • Jingyi Su
    Key Cast
  • Xiaodan Yu
    Key Cast
  • Moon Eldridge
    Key Cast
    Reunion Dinner
  • Project Title (Original Language):
  • Project Type:
    Short, Student
  • Genres:
    Drama, Family, Short
  • Runtime:
    9 minutes 24 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    March 7, 2023
  • Production Budget:
    8,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
    English, Mandarin Chinese
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
    Yes - Savannah College of Art and Design
  • 2023 Seattle Indie Movie Awards
    United States
    Official Selection
  • 2023 New York International Film Awards

    Award Winner
  • 2023 Indie Short Fest

    Award Winner
  • 2023 Atlanta Short Fest
    United States
  • 2023 Sacramento International Film Festival

    Official Selection
  • 2023 Red Movie Award

    Award Winner
  • 2023 Utopia Film Festival

    Official Selection
  • 2023 Vancouver Chinese Film Festival

  • 2024 Spokane International Film Festival

    Official Selection
Director Biography - Siqi Zhang

Siqi Zhang is an independent filmmaker who hails from China. Currently pursuing her MFA in Film & Television at SCAD, focusing on directing and producing. Siqi is passionate about storytelling and filmmaking; her short film "Ballerina," which she produced, was nominated at the WorldFest-Houston International Film Festival. She recently produced the short films "Day of Jane" and "Rattlesnake in The Dream", which have been screened on the SCAD film showcase.
Before studying in America, Siqi completed her BA from Zhejiang University of Communication. In China, she was one of the directors of the highly popular stand-up comedy variety show "Rock & Roast Season 2," which saw a significant increase in internet ratings from the previous season's 6.9 to 7.5.
Siqi's films frequently explore the "family relationships" theme, which has played a crucial role in her growth as a Chinese film director. Her experiences studying abroad have strengthened her understanding of the importance of cultural identity in filmmaking.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

"Sleepless" tells the story of Suzie, a young Chinese immigrant girl who struggles with her cultural identity in an unfamiliar environment. Through the emotional influence of family and love, she ultimately reconciles with her cultural heritage. As the director, I aimed to explore the complex emotions and experiences of cultural displacement and the universal theme of self-acceptance, using the film is a reminder of the power of love and family to bridge cultural divides.

One's cultural identity is inseparable from their emotional connection to a particular group. Sometimes, emotional connection may be the most important factor in cultural identity. Many immigrants struggle with balancing their own culture with the new one they find themselves in, feeling like they are "strangers in a foreign land," which can lead to cultural confusion. In this situation, some immigrants may choose to abandon their own culture and embrace the new one in order to quickly assimilate into society. However, even then, there are still prejudices against these ethnic minority immigrants, who are thought not to actively integrate into American culture. Suzie is a microcosm of the immigrant community, feeling anxious and confused about her cultural identity, unable to sleep at night, and wanting to rid herself of her original culture.

Language is also an important part of the immigrant community's integration into society. Suzie chooses not to speak Chinese, her mother tongue, in order to assimilate into society. Her grandmother, who suffers from aphasia, cannot understand English and express herself well, brings Suzie's own culture back into Suzie's living environment, which further exacerbates Suzie's anxiety and resentment towards her grandmother, deepening the generation gap between them.

The film's Chinese title is "眠" which means "sleep" in English, hinting at the protagonist's insomnia and her search for inner peace after accepting her cultural identity. Using the Eastern way to tell Western story, Suzie to finally find solace and fall asleep.
The direct inspiration for this film came from my grandmother. When I was young, my parents were very busy with work, so they would either have my grandmother come to our house or send me to hers to take care of me. Honestly, as a child, I didn't really like my grandmother. I didn't like the smell of old people on her, I didn't like her restrictions on me, I didn't like her collecting plastic bags and "garbage", and I especially didn't like her always talking to me in dialect. When I was younger, I always wished she could be a little quieter. But strangely enough, it was listening to my grandmother speak Mandarin with her accent while telling me stories that always put me to sleep so easily.

As I got a little older, I entered my rebellious phase and enjoyed doing things that my elders didn't allow me to do, thinking that it was cool, like staying up all night playing on my computer. One late night, while I was playing on my computer, my grandmother heard the noise coming from my room, opened the door, and told me to stop playing and go to sleep. She sat beside me and spoke to me in her accented Mandarin, trying to reason with me. Of course, I was rebellious and didn't listen to her advice. I even said some very mean things to her. That time, I really made my grandmother angry, and she quietly cried in the living room. My mother heard the commotion and came out to comfort my grandmother, but I locked myself in my room and didn't show any sign of backing down.

In fact, after a while, I realized my mistake, but I never apologized to my grandmother. That incident was eventually forgotten, and my grandmother forgave me, as she always did after every disagreement. She still loved me just as much. Meanwhile, after that incident, I thoroughly reflected on my own mistakes and never disrespected my grandmother again.

Later, I left my hometown to pursue my studies in other cities and countries where there was no nagging or control from my grandmother. All I had were unfamiliar surroundings and stress, and it was from that point on that I began to suffer from insomnia. On every sleepless night, what I missed the most was my grandmother telling me every story she could think of, in her accented Mandarin. Unfortunately, I could never hear them again because my grandmother passed away due to illness. When she passed away, I wasn't there to see her one last time, to express how much I loved her or to apologize to her. This feeling always haunted me, and I shed tears when I thought of my grandmother. Until one day, I dreamt that my grandmother was telling me stories again, and that night, I slept really well.

This film is Suzie's reconciliation with herself, and also my reconciliation with the guilt towards my grandmother.