In a remote mountainous region of Yunnan, China, three sisters aged four, six and ten live alone without their parents, relying on family members and other villagers to survive.
Acclaimed director Wang Bing traces the daily cycle of these girls' lives, left alone to fend for themselves in a world of harsh economic realities. Their mother has disappeared, while their father, like millions of other farmers in China, has gone to the city looking for work. A grandfather and aunt keep an eye on the children, but it is the eldest sister, Ying, who takes on the role of primary carer for her young sisters. The three girls collect potatoes, haul dung, and tend to various livestock in their small village, all the while seeking ways to incorporate the games of youth into their endless chores.
In beautifully composed frames Wang presents a work of astute observation and exquisite empathy, capturing the desolation and resilience of China's rural poor with warmth and compassion.
Followed by a post-screening discussion with Chris Berry, one of the world's leading scholars in Chinese cinema studies and professor of Film Studies at King's College London, and Dr Tongxue Tan, a specialist in the anthropology of rural China.
Wang Bing is one of the foremost figures in Chinese observational documentary film-making. His documentary on industrial China, West of the Tracks, was considered a major success and won the Grand Prix at the Marseille Festival of Documentary Film.