Over four extraordinary hours, Hu Bo paints a compelling portrait of contemporary China in this FIPRESCI Prize-winning debut that shows the remarkable promise of a young director who took his own life before completing what’s also his final feature.
Bo’s fate flavours every moment of An Elephant Sitting Still with the stark reality of simply struggling to get by – and, combined with the film’s palpable empathy, precise framing and patient five-minute takes, marks the writer/director’s passing as an enormous loss for cinema.
Adapting one of Bo’s own stories, and owing debts to Krzysztof Kieslowski and Edward Yang, the Berlinale Forum FIPRESCI Critics Prize winner follows four northern Chinese residents. As accidents, tragedies and scandals shape the course of a particularly difficult day, the quartet are drawn to the mythical tale of the feature’s title: of an elephant in Manzhouli remaining motionless and ignoring everything around it.
"An Elephant Sitting Still, with its chilling sense of a suspended time in which history, culture, beauty, and even memory seem erased, is among the greatest recent films." – The New Yorker