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UFO in Her Eyes

Guo Xiaolu

Release year: 2011

Run time: 110 min

Film type: Fiction


One very hot afternoon, the life of an anonymous Chinese village woman abruptly changes when she believes that she has just witnessed a UFO flying through the sky. The village chief takes advantage of this unexpected event to boost the poverty-stricken local economy—to stimulate tourism, get government support, and even make contact with the USA. Under a scrutinizing police eye, a collective portrait unfolds ... Partly inspired by Kafka’s The Metamorphosis and Kurosawa’s Rashomon, the film portrays the lives of ordinary individuals dealing with radical political changes in a chaotic contemporary Chinese society.


Director biography

Guo Xiaolu is a novelist, essayist, screenwriter and filmmaker. She was born in south-eastern China in 1973 and studied Film and Beijign Film Academy and the UK National Film and TV School.

The English-language translation of her novel, Village of Stone (2004), was shortlisted for the 2005 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize and the 2006 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. This was followed by her first novel in English, A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers (2007), which was shortlisted for the 2007 Orange Prize for Fiction; 20 Fragments of a Ravenous Youth (2008), which was longlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize; UFO in her Eyes (2009), a surrealist account of globalisation; a collection of short stories entitled Lovers in the Age of Indifference (2014); and I Am China, a novel published in 2014.

Her award-winning films include the feature films She, a Chinese (2009, Golden Leopard Award in Locarno Film Festival) and UFO In Her Eyes (2011), the latter adapted as a screenplay from her novel, and screened at international film festivals. Her documentaries include Once upon a time Proletarian (2009), We Went to Wonderland (2008), How Is Your Fish Today? (2006) and The Concrete Revolution (2004), which was awarded the Grand Prix in the 2005 International Human Rights Film Festival (France).

In April 2013, she was named one of the 'Best of Young British Novelists' by Granta Magazine.

Director's statement

Falling to the earth, returning to the sky—the inspiration for UFO In Her Eyes comes from two worlds: my personal experience and an intellectual bricolage. The landscapes that surrounded the rural village where I grew up in South China lacked any civilized character. So did the cruel, unimaginable daily life that every peasant faced as they struggled to survive. I remember from my childhood the old people in the village, full of bitterness and dark habits. For me, the old peasants were always the most fascinating people because they had lived through it all. They had witnessed the radical changes of China’s history in the last century—from feudalism to communism, and then to the new capitalism. Most of them had grown up with memories of imperial-era slavery, yet now they found the kids around them drinking Coca Cola and playing with iPods. The old ones had not been able to adjust to the new demands of capitalism; they were living the rest of their lives in sorrow and anger. The young ones in the village were confused by the anger of their elders, they were bored by the old morality and a life under totalitarianism and just wanted to leave. I remember that because it is what I also felt—the restless and troubled feeling under the burning sun in the abandoned rice fields, as if the only chance to live life was by taking to the road and leaving. On an intellectual level, my work finds inspiration in symbolic and surrealist artwork. I want to find an expressive method to portray how an individual tries to find a path of survival in the midst of history playing out within a totalitarian society—it is the perpetual, ongoing story of Sisyphus. Political satire is one way to describe this story; at the same time, I am also interested in non-linear structures and multiple points of view in cinema through which, I believe, one can convey a complex social story more effectively. This is the kind of structure I’ve created in UFO In Her Eyes. The film is visually rich, alive, and darkly funny, with a poetic, post-modern attitude.