Xiaofen works as a clerk in a law office in the industrial city of Zigong. Her unending daily routine is to record clients’ claims, complaints and arguments in cases ranging from divorces and spousal abuse to medical malpractice and industrial accidents. Xiaofen’s life has its own crises: her boyfriend, Deng Gang, is released from prison but quickly gives in to the gambling bug that put him there; her mother pressures her into a date with a suitor whose main interest is showing her bland business photos on his laptop computer; and she finally meets her estranged father. All these incidents build to a momentum when Deng Gang is suspected of murder and disappears, and the city is threatened by toxic pollution after an explosion in a chemical plant. In the ensuing evacuation, many people go missing. Uncertain of her future, Xiafen walks down empty streets while a public address system intones the names of the missing. The enigmatic end sequence seems to plead for a reverse of this erosion and loss of community, and suggests that some good may come from all this misfortune. With deadpan humor, deeply felt sensitivity and social commentary, director Ying Liang establishes the authorial voice promised in his short films and first feature, Taking Father Home. Here, he cleverly mixes major and minor crises, personal and political dilemmas, to create a chilling reflection on life today. This film was made in part with funds Ying Liang and his producer, Peng Shan, were awarded as SFIFF’s 2006 SKYY Prize winners for Taking Father Home. —Roger Garcia
Have just watched Ying Liang's beautiful "Taking Father Home," (2006), a film about a country boy, and his 2 ducks, looking for a lost father in a city. Very contemplative, real, dealing with the ordinary life of people, the film is beautifully shot and made, with a lethal serenity that is very moving. Am looking forward to seeing "The Other Half." Liang, and Peng Shang are the future of Chinese cinema.