Screened as part of NZIFF 2013

Three Sisters 2012

San zimei

Directed by Wang Bing

In a Chinese mountain village a family of remarkable sisters aged ten, six and four, sustain themselves with minimal adult support in this remarkable doco. “A work of sustained observation and exquisite empathy.” — Cinema Scope

France / Hong Kong In Mandarin with English subtitles
153 minutes DCP



Sylvie Faguer
Mao Hui


Huang Wenhai
Li Peifeng
Wang Bing


Adam Kerby
Wang Bing


Fu Kang


Sun Yingying
Sun Zhenzhen
Sun Fenfen
Sun Shunbao
Sun Xianliang
Zhu Fulian
Liu Kaimen


Venice, Toronto 2012


“Wang Bing confirms his mastery of the documentary form with his new film Three Sisters. A work of sustained observation and exquisite empathy, the film takes us deeply into worlds most of us have barely imagined. In the high mountains of the remote western Yunnan province of China, Wang and his two cameramen discovered a family of three little sisters. The eldest, Yingying, is ten; the middle sister Zhenzhen is six, and the youngest, tiny Fenfen, is four. Their father is away working in a distant city; mother seems out of the picture.

So it’s just these three girls who make up a complete functional family. Living in utter poverty (their home is a cave-like dwelling – dark, dirty, littered with root vegetables, shared with their few scrawny domestic animals), they work hard, constantly, in dirt, exhausting themselves with the daily labour of subsistence agriculture. There is a neighbouring grandfather and aunt with whom they sometimes eat. But what we see is close to a pure world of little children forced into the most difficult kind of premature adulthood. The film’s tone is anything but despairing, and the absolute opposite of condescending. There is a kind of invincible energy, a life force that pushes our three heroines to survive, and Wang captures their world with unimaginable beauty and a compassionate, engaged, committed eye.” — Shelly Kraicer, Cinema Scope