Screened as part of NZIFF 2004

South of the Clouds 2004

Yun de Nanfang

Directed by Zhu Wen

China In Mandarin with English subtitles
100 minutes 35mm

Director, Screenplay


Wang Min


Kong Jinlei


Zuoxiao Zuzhou


Li Xuejian
Liu Changsheng
Jin Zi
Tian Zhuangzhuang


Berlin 2004


With his second film, novelist-cum-director Zhu Wen has seamlessly made the shift from underground to government-approved production. Even so, South of the Clouds, his first ‘above ground’ film, is a striking change of pace from last year’s grungy cops-and-hookers flick Seafood. His new film follows sixty-something widower and retiree Xu Daqin who, freed from the restraints of work and marriage, is obsessed with making a long-deferred trip to the exotic southern province of Yunnan. Xu’s retirement trip is bound up in shrouded motives from his past. As a young man he had intended to work in the south, but had to pass up the chance when an affair with a girl led suddenly into marriage. His trip south gives him a taste of the alternative dream life he has imagined all these years, but goes awry when an extortion scam lands him in jail. Zhu’s moving ode to the sacrifices made by his parents’ generation is one of this year’s best Chinese films, above- or underground. — MM