In China many parents are sacrificing everything to see their children graduate successfully from university in order to obtain highly paid jobs. Han Peiyin has sold off all the family’s home valuables and now works in Xi’an to make the money for his son, Shengli, to attend university. For years, Han, carried a notebook in which he recorded all of his loans - mostly small amounts such as 10 or 20 RMB. Han is convinced that knowledge has the power to change destinies and expects his son to be successful. He also recorded his expectations for his son: “Around the year 2013 or so, when I am roughly in my sixties, Shengli will take our family to Beijing for a sightseeing visit. We will have plenty of money by then…” With absolute belief in his son’s future success, Han lives in share accommodation for 1RMB a night and uses a brick as his pillow. He works as a labourer when the work is available. Meanwhile at university, Shengli, despite his father’s financial support, can barely afford to eat and collects empty water bottles from his classmates to sell for money. And after four years of study, shy Shengli’s prospects are dim and the reality is he may end up earning less than his father. This film follows father and son over four years as Brave Father Han supports his son with undiminishing hope for their future.
Li Junhu graduates with a degree in photography from Xi’an Academy of Fine Arts. He currently works for the International Division of Shaanxi TV Station. His works include:
CYBER LOVE, participant in Chinese Independent Film Exhibition in 2004;
ACCOOMPANIED STUDY, participant in Asian TV Program Producers Forum in 2005;
BORN IN 1977, participant in Sichuan International TV Festival in 2005, winner at the 28th Tokyo Video Festival in 2006
STORY OF GROWING UP, a 20-episode documentary series, participant in Chinese TV Documentary Development Forum in 2005, one of 10 winners of Chinese Documentaries Excellence Award in 2005, top prize in Shaanxi Press Award;
Traveling a Thousand Li in Search of Mother, participant in France FIPA International TV Festival in 2006, nominated for China Film & Television Academy Awards, one of 10 winners of Chinese Documentaries Excellence Award in 2006;
CITY, participant in Chinese Producer Award at Guangzhou International Documentary Film Festival in 2006.
From The Director
Money is a very heavy word, especially when life is full of borrowing and reimbursing. Its heaviness even surpasses money itself. Some people use mineral water to wash face, rinse mouth and satisfy thirst, while others pick up and sell the empty bottles for food money. Some people sail through college easily paying their way, while others have to sell everything in their possession.
Han Peiyin comes to the city with a hope—because his son Han Shengli is a college student. This explains why he lives optimistically with a book full of debt records. He believes Shengli will have a different future.
Longing can be seen in everybody with hope. When you feel you’re getting closer to what you long for, you can endure any hardship, because you see a beautiful future in front of you. It will be hard to realize it may be not as good as expected, or even just an empty dream. When Shengli looks into the distance from the top of the school building and muttering “I think I will stay here”, we are led to believe that’s something that will naturally happen.
Having a better life is what everybody wants, unless one feels one’s current life is already good enough. As a rural college student in the city, Shengli struggles to made ends meet. He understood the better life to be found in cities. Staying in the city is his biggest wish, as it’s his father’s.
“Around 2013 or so, by then we will be rich, our family will go to Beijing to have a good visit for a couple of days, and certainly we will…” When Han Peiyin was longing for the future, Shengli uttered his tired and desperate speech before the camera. Words he couldn’t bring to his father, “He has to accept it, and he must face reality. That’s life.”
Living in a prosperous city, believing dream is within reach, but in fact their dream is as remote as ever. When a belief you’ve held since childhood collapses and you suddenly find life is not what seems, what will you do?
In the end, in an act deserving our respect, Han Peiyin accepts this unacceptable reality.
※Award The 2nd Chinese Documentary Festival, the Best short documentary, 2009
※Selected in the 20th FIPA International Festival of Audiovisual Programs, 2008
※The 1st VARIFAIR International Film Festival, 2009
※New Asia Film Festival, 2009
※Southern Appalachian International Film Festival, 2009
※The 13th Rhode Island International Film Festival, 2009
※Sohu Global China Documentary Ceremony, Honorable Mention, 2010
※The 1st Beijing International Film Festival, Documentary Top20, 2011