Rockbund Art Museum 上海外滩美术馆

Independent Film Screening: Xiao Lizi 弗搭界独立电影观摩系列之九: 《小李子》

Event Information

Date: 6 April 2012 Invalid Date
Time: 09:13 Invalid Date
Venue: 2F, Rockbund Art Museum


日期: 2012年 4月 6日 Invalid Date
时间: 09:13 Invalid Date
场馆: 上海外滩美术馆 2楼

Yu Guangyi,Zhao Chuan


"Never Mind" Independent Film Screening VOL.9: Xiao Lizi

Curated by Zhao Chuan / Gao Zipeng

Release date: 2008

Running time: 94 minutes

Camera equipment: Sony PD190

Director: Yu Guangyi

Cinematographer: Yu Guangyi

Producer: Li Rongbin

Editors: Yu Guangyi and Wang Guosheng

English subtitles: Cindy Carter

Subtitle editor: Bao Wei

Film Synopsis

In the snowbound wilderness of the Changbai mountain range, in China's northeastern Heilongjiang Province, we find an unusual family: a hunter, his wife, a vagrant named Xiao Li, two dogs and one cat. They live together in a decrepit house in an abandoned logging camp, miles from the nearest village. During the winter, they feed themselves by hunting and trapping; in the summer, they raise and sell some of their small herd of goats.

A century of intensive logging has deforested the Changbai mountain range and left its inhabitants, who relied on the timber industry for their livelihood, unemployed and destitute. The hunter himself was once employed by the Bureau of Forestry; after he was laid off, he turned to herding and hunting to survive. Xiao Li, reduced to vagrancy after he was laid off from his job, sought refuge with the hunter, who offered him room and board in exchange for tending the goats and doing some odd jobs around the house. So it is that this tranquil valley shows signs of human habitation: the smell of cooking, smoke drifting from a chimney and the mournful echo of Xiao Li's singing.

When the government begins clearing away houses to build a reservoir that will supply drinking water to Harbin, a city of over nine million people, the hunter and his household are asked to move. By wintertime, the house has been half-demolished but the family remains: they brave the heavy snowstorms and await the arrival of spring. Just before Chinese New Year, government inspectors investigating reports of illegal poaching find and confiscate the stores of meat that the family has set aside to last them through the long winter. The hunter flees to avoid capture, his wife returns to her parents' home and Xiao Li is arrested, but manages to escape. When he returns to the mountain, frostbitten and exhausted, he finds himself alone once again, with only his pets and songs to keep him company...

Director’s Words

Survival Songwas filmed in the Changbai mountains of northeastern China, the area where I was born and raised. In fact, many of the people who appear in this documentary are my childhood friends and neighbors. I left my hometown over two decades ago and now live 400 kilometers away in Daqing, a city famed for its productive oil fields. Since I began making independent films in 2004, my main focus has been documenting the lives of the people who live in the Changbai mountains. Having been raised there, I know something of the history and culture, and am very conscious of the changes that rapid economic development has wrought. The old ways of life are disappearing quickly, and I feel a sense of urgency - a combination of personal nostalgia and a larger sense of social responsibility - to document them before they vanish completely.

A century of felling trees has deforested the Changbai national forest and left many local residents unemployed and destitute. For those whose families have inhabited these remote mountains for generations, adjusting to life in the outside world - that is, relocating to cities in which they possess no land, jobs or connections - can be difficult. While Chinese cities have prospered in recent years, inland and mountainous regions tend to remain poor and overlooked. Government officials view the mountains in terms of resource extraction, as a valuable source of water for China's growing cities, but pay scant attention to the welfare of rural residents, many of whom cannot afford to feed themselves or their families.

Poverty has exposed some of the ugliest aspects of human nature. In certain areas, environmental degradation and resource competition have reduced human society to a pecking order in which each person must struggle to maintain his or her place in the food chain. No longer is there any respect for the age-old "code of the mountains" in which hunters and trappers steered clear of traps set by others. These days, the poachers poach from one another, and anyone who comes across trapped prey is likely to steal it for themselves. After a long winter spent setting and checking his traps, the hunter has very little to show for his efforts. Meanwhile, the hunter has become the hunted: even more powerful human predators have set in motion a plan that will deprive him of his land, his home and his livelihood.

Beginning in October of 2006, I lived with the hunter and his family for one year. Each day, I accompanied him up the mountain to set traps and gather firewood. By night, I slept on a traditional kang: a raised earthern platform, heated from below, that serves as both bed and sitting area. After a demolition crew arrived to dismantle the house, melted snow began to leak through the cracks in the roof. One morning, I woke to find my clothes and bedding soaked; I wrung out my clothes as best I could, put them on again and set out for a long day's work.

Early in 2007, the hunter took me to a village down the mountain to recharge the batteries in my camera and buy some provisions for the Chinese New Year. After so long in the wilderness, even that village of a few dozen households seemed bustling: the 40-watt bulb in the tiny village shop was dazzling; the shelves brimming with expired foodstuffs were enticing; even the plump, sunburned farmer's wife behind the counter seemed fashionable and alluring. It was only then that I realized how a long period of loneliness and isolation can change a person. I had been on the mountain for less than a year, but the hunter and his family had been living there for over four years, without electricity, indoor plumbing or a telephone.

In the course of making this documentary, I recorded and experienced many unforgettable incidents. Even now, I sometimes imagine that I can hear the sound of Xiao Lizi singing right nearby. I dedicate this film to him and the other mountain dwellers who were kind enough to allow me into their lives, and to kind and decent people everywhere.

About the Director

Yu Guangyi was born in 1961 in China's northeastern Heilongjiang Province. After graduating from the Chinese Academy of Art in Hangzhou, he worked for many years as a woodblock print artist. He began making independent documentary films in 2004. His first film was Mu Bang (English titles: Timber Gang, The Last Lumberjack). Little Li is his second film.

《小李子》 于广义、赵川


策划: 赵川、高子鹏

片长: 94分钟

设备: SONY PD190

创作年份: 2008年

导演慑影: 于广义

策划: 沈少民 于广义 于秋石

制片人: 李荣滨

英文翻译: 辛迪

剪辑: 于广义 王国生

字幕校对: 包巍