Introduction by Thomas from Kuleshov
Director: Zhang Wei
At the heart of the film is the relationship between Huanyu, thirty two years spent in the wrong body, and her father Jianguo, a widower, a devout member of a Christian community.
Jianguo is not mentally equipped to handle the situation when the hospital assigned to do Huanyu’s sex change operation – permitted by law – requires the permission of family members, despite the patient being an adult. Faced with Huanyu’s unexpected revelation, Jianguo is completely lost, he lacks the ability to even differentiate between transgender, homosexual, sick or sinful.
The church to which they both belong is just as incapable of accepting diversity – the pastor of the community sees no contradiction in preaching respect between individuals during religious service and at the same time physically chasing Huanyu out of the chapel.
The only people who accept and see Huanyu for the woman she is are other transsexuals – not even the old schoolmate she shares an apartment with, while wanting to defend Huanyu from prejudice and gossip, can treat her like a woman.
The small community of transsexuals which Huanyu now sees as family has to face constant hostility and humiliation, even in professional environments.
The religious community’s inflexibility – as well as society’s – and cultural prejudices lead to tragedy, which, from a narrative perspective works as a Deus ex-machina to the plot, because it forces Jianguo look within his soul to find the strength to accept his child. If on the one hand, the physical change that Huanyu craves for her body is enormous, perhaps even greater is the mental change her father undergoes.
Director Zhang Wei
Zhang Wei was Born in Hunan Province of China, and he studied Directing at the Beijing Film Academy as well as Cinema Studies at the Chinese National Academy of Arts.
Zhang Wei is known for his cinematic realism that depicts individuals who are marginalized by society in a natural, and realistic way. His films self-consciously express critical social issues and convey powerful social messages through their unassuming storylines that embody important social conflicts. This constant struggle between marginalized individuals and society introduces the audience to aspects of Chinese society that are often overshadowed by China’s rapid transformation.
In his film-making career, to date he has directed seven features including BEIJING DREAM (2010) and SHADOW PUPPET SHOW OF ONE PERSON (2011), both of which received acclaim from critics. His third feature FACTORY BOSS (2014) won Best Actor Award at Montréal World Film Festival, Fajr Award for Best Original Screenplay at Fajr International Film Festival, and has been shown at numerous festivals. His fourth feature DESTINY(2016) won Best Actress Award and Best Actor Award at New York SR Socially Relevant Film Festival. BALLAD FROM TIBET (2017) is his fifth feature and won multiple awards including Best Children’s Feature at China International Children’s Film Festival. In October 2018, THE RIB (2018) had its world premier at Busan International Film Festival and won Kim Jiseok Award.