On an ancient Suzhou street with traditional white walls and black tiles, an old lady in her nineties lives with her caretaker who is in her sixties. The old lady comes from a prestigious family and was a national athletic star during her college years. After fleeing to Suzhou from Shanghai together with her lover, her life was filled with hardship. Her husband didn’t leave her, but always betrayed her, and in the end passed away before her. After her husband’s death, the old lady, who has no children, wrote a will that she will give all her money to the local university for a scholarship.
The old lady treated her will as a secret. However, everybody knew this secret. People couldn’t understand why she would give money to students who had never taken care of her? Once while she was sick and had an unclear mind, her care-taker made her write a slip promising to give the caretaker RMB 20,000. In order to get this money, the care-taker began to study and learn one Chinese character a day. The old lady was hospitalized for several times and lots of valuable furniture was taken away by her niece, which made the caretaker envious. So, the caretaker and the niece began to bad-mouth each other before the old lady…
Before we know it, six years passed. Half of the old street was dismantled and the other half remains. With all the happenings in the world, the old lady lived through the frustration in her life and was revitalized at age 95, just like an ancient tree producing new buds. Under the autumn sunlight and with the caretaker by her side, she caressed the remaining bit of a photo showing her with rosy lips, missed her late husband, and pondered how her secret would one day be disclosed and what legacy she would leave — all things that seem meaningless to those around her.
Director:Li Xiaofeng, Jia Kai
Born in Pingxiang of Jiangxi Province and now living in Shanghai, Li Xiaofeng is the author of Films in the 20th Century and Creation of Documentary Films. Representative film works: THE STRIKER OF SPRING GONG, The Best Short Documentary at the 8th Beijing Film Festival of University Students in 2001; THE NIGHT GOER, 2005, participated in the 20th Fribourg International Film Festival and the 8th Taipei Film Festival, as well as many international film exhibitions; LEATHER SHOES OR STRAW SANDALS, selected for NHK International High Resolution Documentary Project in 2006
Born in Suide of Shaanxi Province, Jia Kai obtains his master’s degree from Art Department of Beijing Normal University and now is a lecturer with College of Communication and Art of Shanghai Tongji University. She is the translator of three books including Robert J. Flaherty: A Biography and participated in the production of films such as THE NIGHT GOER, LEATHER SHOES OR STRAW SANDALS, and A STREET OF ONE HUNDRED PACES. In addition, she has also produced many programs for CCTV, Beijing TV Station, and Shanghai TV Station.
From The Director
In her final years, the grandma seemed to be slipping into a miserable life. But this elegant elder still looked to give off her last lights. Stinginess and generosity, acrimony and kindness, silliness and wisdom, all these things were unbelievably intermingled, and what a deep and rich internal world this is! As the recorder, we were sad and excited. During the years of recording, my grandparent and grandfather passed away in succession. Those shoes made by my grandmother were left on the attic of my home—opening their mouth wordlessly, making me feel very guilty and regretful as I’ve been away throughout the year. Unconsciously, such an unexplainable complex feeling can be found on this old street and these people that will disappear soon.
If it were possible, we would like to keep shooting this film, never end it.
※International Documentary Festival Amsterdam, Doc for Sale, 2007
※Award Top 10 Best Documentary, the 5th Chinese Independent Film Festival, 2008
※Vision du reel film festival, DOC outlook-international market, 2008
※Selected in the 9th Jeonju International Film Festival, International Competition, 2008
※Yunnan Multi Culture Visual Festival 2009, non-competition, 2009
※The 1st VARIFAIR International Film Festival, 2009
※The 15th Shanghai Television Festival, 2009
※CIFVF:Chongqing Independent Film and Video Festival, 2009
※CHINESE COLLEGIAL ASSOCIATION FOR VISUAL ART, 2010
※Award Chinese Documentary Academic Board Top 10 Chinese best documentary, 2011