Week 8 – More Movies
This week for my senior project, I watched the film Foolish Bird, through someone else’s dropbox, though moments after I finished it I realized it was actually available for purchase on Youtube.
The movie was directed by Huang Ji and her husband Ryûji Otsuka. I had intended to watch the film Stonewalling, their most recent film, however it was absolutely nowhere to be found across the whole wide web except in select theaters in Canada. When I was doing research for the Cinequest film festival’s Chinese and Indian film selection, Stonewalling appeared in many other ongoing film festival’s lineups. Unable to watch Stonewalling, I watched her second most recent film.
The main character in the film is a teenage girl. She is one of the many “left behind children” in rural regions of China. These kids live with their grandparents or other relatives for years as their parents are usually far away in another city making a living as it is difficult to earn a sustainable living within those rural regions. The director, Huang Ji, herself was a “left behind child” and so was the actor of this teenage girl; in fact, most of the actors in the film were playing who they were in real life — Huang’s grandpa played the girl’s grandpa, her teacher played the girl’s teacher. The film displays the social setting of the small town that Lin, the main character, and Huang grew up in. Lin and her friend Mei, sell phones Lin stole from her school’s pool of confiscated phones, and they got their hair done with the money. At the end of the night, they were sexually assaulted by the hair stylists. Yet neither girl had known the severity of their experience. Lin was unsure of what had happened until weeks later, and Mei killed herself after finding out that she had been given a STI during it.
Their reaction to this is partially a lack of sex education. In an interview, Huang addresses that another scene was her own experience. It was Lin’s first time with her boyfriend and he questioned whether if she was truly a virgin and left her in the hotel. In the film, this led to Lin breaking down in the hotel room alone. In reality, years later, Huang had reconnected with that boyfriend, and he said his choices were purely motivated by the fact that everyone around him was treating their girlfriends in that way. The emotional scene of Lin in the hotel room is not necessarily a result of her own actions. The social circumstances surrounding her ultimately caused her go through that. This film was never released in China, though I’m not sure if Huang ever attempted to release it in China. It was submitted to various international film festivals and won. Though Huang herself graduated from the Beijing Film Academy, the product of her education remains to be disproved by censorship.
I will be using this movie amongst others in my presentation and paper as well.