My Family Tree
Release year: 2008
Run time: 279mins
Film type: Documentary
My parents' family has lived for generations in two small villages not far from each other in the western part of Guangdong, with my grandparents relying on the land to support their dozens of children. The two families used to visit frequently, especially during the New Year. In the early days of reform and opening up, some members of the family moved out of the towns to get rid of the rural hukou. With urbanisation, the younger generation moved into the cities and became citizens, or even emigrated abroad - as society changed, the families that had lived together in one big ancestral home expanded in all directions, with most going out to work and earn money, leaving the elderly and children behind. Their living conditions also vary greatly.
The young generation, who have taken root in the city and become middle class, are stable but have their own problems - the youngest son of the aunt's uncle is not very good at his job. -My aunt's youngest son, who is not a good talker, is in his early 30s and has yet to find a date. The family is anxious about this and has been looking for a match everywhere, but all the young girls in their hometown have gone out to work and have only been back for a few days for New Year. This year, we are going to make a new grave for my father, but eight years later, my father's grave is overgrown with weeds and it is difficult to determine where my father's grave is; my brother gave birth to a daughter and at the wedding banquet, the two families of my parents finally took a family photo together for more than ten years, but some people are still there and some are not, there are new faces and old faces.
The 30 years of reform and opening up, the rapid social changes, the rapid urbanisation, the fragmentation of the agrarian social ecology and values, but in any case, for the ordinary people, to eat and live is the most important thing.
Yang Pingdao is a writer and director based in Guangdong province. He was born in Yangchun, Guangdong, in 1980, and graduated in film directing from the National Academy of Chinese Theatre Arts. His documentaries have attended festivals in Beijing, Kunming, Xian, Leipzig, and London. On his incorporation of living and dead family members into his work, he says “I sensed when my grandmother was going to die… I felt powerless at that critical time, but I hope to do something this time. After a long time of deliberation, I thought the only thing I was able to do was to make a film about our family.”