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We Went to Wonderland

Guo Xiaolu

Release year: 2008

Run time: 76 min

Film type: Documentary


The old Chinese man has no voice. But he writes notes:

"Water is so good in the west."
"Flowers are long dead on Karl Marx's grave."
"English trains don't respect people's time."
"When Picasso died, my daughter was born."

He observes the drifting clouds, his wife looks at the Houses of Parliament. As he wanders in the Vatican, his wife is still praising the English parks. This is the first and maybe the last time they leave China. He wants to see the whole world before he dies, but her heart longs for home.

A Chinese daughter, the director, decides to use the move function of a digital stills camera' to record her old parent's journey to the west. Shot in black and white with this smallest of equipment, the film achieves exceptional freedom of style and intimacy. Minimalist, with hints of French Nouvelle Vague, integrating stills and quotes, the film portraits a philosophical journey, going through cultural conflicts, love relationship, memories of personal histories, shadows of the turmoil of China's past, glimpses of the weight of two individuals in a global environment.

As ancient Taoist master Lao Tzu said: "The further you go, the less you understand". This visual poem is like an abstract Chinese ink painting, drawing traces of two people's interior life.


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.


  • 2008 Special Jury Award, the 2nd Cines del Sur Granada Film Festival