A three-part documentary telling the stories of a community of Lisu and Nu, ethnic minorities living in a remote town in China’s southwest Yunnan province, on the border of Tibet and Burma. Once a vibrant county seat, the town of Zhiziluo has now been abandoned to local peasants.
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In its focus on the nuances of family relations, this film is more Chekov than Tolstoy. Small moments rather than grand statements. There is no narration and no expository slides, so the film doesn't explicitly place the town in context. I wonder how it reads to Chinese audiences that already have knowledge of the area. Then again, some of those audiences may be in the same boat given state censorship in China.
In a beautiful but remote mountainous western corner of Yunnan, a town that is a Chinese version of the village in Satantango steadily rots, with relationships, religion (Christianity mixed with animism) and hope all in decline, and people ultimately packing up and heading east. The film is an overlong (going digital isn't an excuse to ignore editing) but poignant portrait of people on the margins of economic hubris.