Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB
Original title: Yi ge dou bu neng shao
China, 1999. Bejing New Picture Distribution Company, Columbia Pictures Corporation, Film Productions Asia, Guangxi Film Studio. Screenplay by Xiangsheng Shi. Cinematography by Yong Hou. Produced by Yu Zhao. Music by Bao San. Production Design by Juiping Cao. Costume Design by Huamiao Tong. Film Editing by Ru Zhai.
Exceptional filmmaking from one of China’s most brilliant filmmakers, Zhang Yimou. Known mostly for his opulent period pieces, Zhang returns to the grittiness of The Story of Qiu Ju, using real actors more or less playing themselves in a true story. Thirteen year-old Minzhi Wei is hired as to replace a temporarily departing schoolteacher in a tiny village, told she will be given a salary bonus if he comes back and finds that all the students have remained enrolled during her absence. In these poor villages it is a common occurrence for parents to take their children out of school and send them to the city to work, so the young girl’s quest to maintain her numbers takes her on a terrifying journey. Compelling and exquisite, not to mention a politically subversive examination of economics in communist China, this film greatly benefits from Zhang’s emphasis on honesty when filming children, all of them delightful and endearing.