Cherry Lane Movies: Films & Filmmakers series at Yu Gong Yi Shan


2007, 123 minutes, Mongolian and Korean with English subtitles

Guest: Director Zhang Lu

A lone man’s fight against deforestation on the solitary Mongolian steppe is interrupted when a young mother and son escaping from North Korean appear at his yurt. And thus the central thread of this epic drama is spun with picture-book simplicity by Chinese writer-director Zhang Lu.

The story begins shortly before when Hungai’s (Osor Bat-Ulzii) wife leaves for the city with their only child for treatment for her failing hearing. The farmer is not left to battle the encroaching desert alone for long. Soon after one mother and child leave, another arrives in the form of an enchanting North Korean mother Choi Soon-hee (Seo Jung) and her somewhat impudent son Chang-ho (Shin Dong-ho). Hungai takes them in and soon bonds with the son, buying him crayons. Mother and son willingly pitch in with daily chores, and despite the linguistic and gastronomic barriers, gradually a familial bond is formed that seems stronger than Hungai’s real family. Romantic tension quietly builds until Hungai makes a clumsy pass at Soon-hee that she categorically rejects. Various passerby including a slave trader and an amorous soldier take interest in the Koreans while Hungai shelters them.

Zhang’s stripped-down filmmaking style featuring single-camera takes, predominantly natural lighting and unaffected performances is well-suited to the straightforward narrative, organically fitting the epic outdoor settings without surrendering the humanity of the drama. Nominated for a Golden Bear at the 2007 Berlin International Film Festival.

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  • Tickets: Rmb 40 /20 (students)