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Ji Dan

Release year: 2006

Run time: 85 mins

Film type: Documentary


The film depicts the story of a young man named Yun in a village called Xiaoyi along the Yellow River. Like other children in rural areas, Yun was born into a hardworking and impoverished farming family. However, Yun was intelligent and restless, pitying and even despising the environment that raised him. He came to Guangzhou and reluctantly joined the underworld, engaging in robbery and murder. During a police operation, their leader was killed, and Yun was captured. When his family received the news, they heard no updates for two years, and people in the village speculated that he had been killed long ago. The first part of the film mainly documents the life of Yun's parents after the incident, full of pain, sorrow, and melancholy, but not yet devoid of hope. The director tightens your heart with each passing moment. The tone becomes brighter in the second part, as Yun finally receives news and is sentenced to three years. His father makes arduous efforts to visit him, but is denied access. When Yun is released, there is a long shot of a tall and handsome young man. Yun resembles a triumphant hero, recounting the beauty of the outside world. His parents hope that Yun will settle down, get married, and have children, but Yun feels that he doesn't belong to his hometown. In the end, his inner desire for success leads him back to Guangzhou.


Director biography

Born in 1963 in Heilongjiang. After graduating from Beijing Normal University, Ji Dan spent time in Japan from 1988, studying at Yokohama National University and at Kyoto Seika University. She later joined Asia Press International and in 1994 began producing independent documentaries. The Elder (1999), a film about Tibetan farmers, was shown at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam and the Taiwan International Ethnographic Film Festival. Ji has also filmed many documentary programs for NHK television. She participated in the Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival in 2003, as producer of the Ogawa Shinsuke Prize-winning . Wellspring (2002). Her . Dream of the Empty City (2007) was produced with support from the Pusan International Film Festival AND Fund.