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Year: 2005
UK: Artificial Eye
Cast: Gao Yuan Yuan, Li Bin, Yan Anlian, Tang Yang, Wang Xeuyang
Director: Wang Xiaoshuai
Country: China
Language: Chinese (English subtitles)
UK: 119 mins
UK Certificate: 15 contains strong language and moderate sex references
UK Release Date: 8 September 2006


SHANGHAI DREAMS, Wang Xiaoshuai's Jury Prize winner at 2005 Cannes Film Festival (and follow-up to BEIJING BICYCLE) is a gorgeous and poignant epic. Drawing as it does on Wang Xiaoshuai's own memories of growing up, the film tells the story of a family who in the 1960's were uprooted from their home in the city and moved into the countryside. The film starkly contrasts the problems and conflicts arising from this period in Chinese history.

In the mid 1960's the Chinese government under Mao's Cultural Revolution, fearing a conflict with the Soviet Union, called for strategically important factories to be moved inland to form a 'Third Line of Defence'. Answering their country's call, innumerable workers left their hometowns, families in tow, and followed the factories to the barren terrain of western China. The workers, mostly hailing from the larger cities such as Shanghai and Beijing, included the director's own family who were relocated from Shanghai to the poor, mountainous province of Guizhou where the film is set.

Wu Quinghong (Gao YuanYuan), the 19 year-old protagonist in SHANGHAI DREAMS, is the daughter of a displaced family from Shanghai. Having been raised in Guizhou province she feels happy and at home there, but her father Wu Zemin (Yan Anlian) is not. He has never forgiven his wife Meifen (Tang Yang) for accepting work in a relocated factory and persuading him and the family to leave Shanghai and he constantly bullies his family to return to Shanghai, while pestering his superiors for permission to return home. When Quinghong's friend Xiao Zhen (Wang Xeuyang) embarks on affair with a young disco dancer and Quinghong's family reject her choice of factory hand suitor (Li Bin) everything begins to descend into tragedy....

" The film is steeped in memories of the community I once lived in myself. My family's hometown was Shanghai, but we uprooted ourselves and moved with the factory that employed my mother to Guizhou Province. By the time I was approaching adulthood, my own generation had begun to put down roots in the new, inland communities, but our parents realizing the momentousness of the changes taking place in China, started trying to devise ways of returning to our original homes, even if it meant by-passing the authorities. The adults in the film face exactly this problem. Their children, raised in Guizhou, cannot understand why they should leave the place where they have grown up; all their attachments are local, and they feel nothing for the distant cities their parents came from. Even more important, the younger generation is entering adolescence and starting to fall in love. For the parents, the idea of marrying into local families merely intensifies their sense of crisis. They don't want their children to settle in this remote region or to suffer the fate that they themselves did. It's a generation gap that inevitably provokes conflict, since Qinghong and her contemporaries are already very different people from their parents.
This film is one I've long wanted to make. It is dedicated to my parents, and to the many others who shared a similar destiny". - Wang Xiaoshuai

Wang Xiaoshuai was born in Shanghai, 22 May 1966. His parents moved to Guiyang when he was two months old. Interested in art and ambitious to be a painter, he enrolled in the high school attached to the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing in 1981. He was accepted for the Directing Course at the Beijing Film Academy in 1985, graduating in 1989. His own first two features were made as 'underground' projects and he was briefly blacklisted by the Film Bureau for having made them. His first 'legal' feature was shot in 1996 but not completed until 1998. His 2001 feature BEIJING BICYCLE won the Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival. In addition to directing, he has narrated his own first two features and acted in a number of films for other directors.

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