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The Old Donkey

Li Ruijun

Release year: 2010

Run time: 112 minutes

Film type: Fiction


It is winter in the northern Chinese province of Dansu. In order to build a chemical factory, poor farmers in the village of Gaotai are driven off their land by a local businessman and the party bosses of the Communist village council. But 84-year-old Ma, nicknamed 'the old donkey', refuses to leave his field. And he just happens to have a crucial piece of land. In the face of all the jubilant stories about the wealth China is acquiring thanks to capitalism, young director Li Ruijun strikes a critical note. The transition from deeply rooted communism with its omnipotent village councils to the free market is anything but flawless, according to the maker. The film is not very optimistic about the resistance that the farmers can offer. In an apparently pointless battle, Ma tries to prevent the advancing desert from consuming the graves of his parents. The camera work by Yang Jin puts the characters in the desolate and threatening yet also beautiful landscapes around Gaotai, the birthplace of the director.


Director biography

LI Ruijun (1983, China) started to learn painting and music when he was a teenager. He graduated from an institute of management. For several years he has been working as a TV director. His feature debut The Summer Solstice was screened in several film festivals.