Ji Dan’s documentary about the daughters of a dirt-poor family living among Beijing scrap heaps, and their ferocious determination to get an education, is exhilarating, heart breaking, life affirming, shocking, despairing and ecstatic, all at once.
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An incredibly difficult film to watch in many ways, but very rewarding. Feels almost more like a scripted narrative than a documentary, which might have been a result of interference by the director, or simply the subjects hamming it up/protecting themselves. Or maybe it’s just me, and human nature to wish that real people in such horrible conditions much be artifice and exaggeration. Worth the 2.5 hour running time.
Pushing back against the crushing weight of poverty. A family held together by despair and a single light at the end of a very narrow tunnel. The bravery of the girls and their unwavering belief that there can be something better, is overwhelming.
This is painful. At first it's from seeing their living conditions. Then it is from watching the children trying to figure out which one them gets to go to school. Finally, it is because of the emotional abuse the father engages in. The longer it went the more it felt like a violation. It became too raw, with long takes of the kids trapped in a room with their dad and a film crew. Did the film help them in any way?
An incredibly intimate portrait of poverty and the dysfunction it produces within a single family. Watching children who must function as adults in the face of abuse, drunkenness and the almost unrelenting stress urban poverty is both painful and mesmerizing. It takes place in China but could be an account of any city in the world. The overall tone both echoes and contrasts with ‘Three Sisters.’
I found this narrative incredibly hard to follow. But I was captured by these young girls that mirrored my own struggle of growing up too quickly and becoming the parent to the parent and your siblings. It was fly on the wall cinema.