2017 / 96 minutes

Directed by
Zheng Long
Country of production

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
Location(s) depicted