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SACRIFICED YOUTH

The People's Republic of China (MIFF 1986)

Director: Zhang Nuanxin

Based on a novelette entitled SUCH A BEAUTIFUL PLACE, the film is a woman's recollection of her youthful years in an exotic Thai community in a border region of South China during the cultural revolution period. Her contact with an alien, primitive culture characterised by its simple, sensual lifestyle not only reawakens her repressed sexuality but also enables her to reflect on the traditional cultural values she was brought up with.

An unusual film of love and loss, its plot evolves around her relationships with two men: the son of the Thai family with whom she is staying and Ren |ia. another Han student like her from Beijing. Both men fall in love with her. She rejects one only to lose the other. The foregrounding of sexuality and love against a rigid social environment such as China in the cultural revolution period is a strategy adopted by the director to expose the repressive ideology that dominated the country then. The simple, primitive Thai culture as represented in the film is constructed as the cultural "other" that will enable the Chinese to come to a critical understanding of their own culture.

Zhang Nuanxin, one of the accomplished women directors in China today, is noted for her portrayal of contemporary Chinese women and their maturity after years of political chaos and turbulence. Her first film, DRIVE TO WIN, a story about a woman volleyball player and her aspiration to win honour for the country, was a popular success and SACRIFICED YOUTH, her second film, has been invited to the Hong Kong and the Cannes Film Festivals this year.

As well as being a filmmaker, she is also an educator at Beijing Film Academy. She is currently studying film in Paris.

See also...

THE DRIVE TO WIN

"I've been waiting for this match for over 10 years." Friendship is fine, but competition is important too and Sha Ou, a top player on the Chinese national volleyball team, is playing for keeps. The ... More »

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