Elder sister

96 minutes / 2017
Directed by
Zheng Long

Country of production China

From the 1970s, the "family planning" policies of the Chinese state limited its citizens to having one child. These policies are well-known. Lesser known are the smaller stories of how families sought to evade these policies, and the lasting impact on the children and parents affected by them. Elder Sister focuses on a spirited young teacher who was given away to a family in a neighbouring village 20 days after her birth. Now a mother herself, and expecting her second child (which has been allowed since 2016), she reflects on her experiences. We also hear stories from her family; no-nonsense mothers, grandmothers and aunts recalling their memories of the adoption with a frankness which is often surprising. With intimate access to the daily lives, memories, and emotions of its female subjects, Elder Sister provides a fascinating insight into attitudes to kinship in China, in the context of a now-historic state policy that still reverberates through families and communities today.

In the 2019 RAI Film Fest RAI/Basil Wright

Language and subtitles Chinese

Location(s) depicted China