Out of Phoenix Bridge is the work of Li Hong, a young Chinese filmmaker, who wished to discover how some of the 20 million people under 30 in China eke out their daily existence. The plot is familiar – four girls come from the country to town, seeking fortune. Because it requires a residency permit to move from the countryside to the city, the girls are at the mercy of rapacious employers and landlords. They hang to each other in the slum in which they are reduced to living.
When they go home again to the countryside, they meet discouragement from their parents – and no one will marry them because they are thought to be too old. In the end, as the film poignantly shows, the kind of freedom they can hope for is strictly limited, and will consist, most probably, in finding a slightly better room in which to live, and a job that pays a little more money. —BBC Four Storyville