(Dixia de Tiankong )
hang Chi / China, 2008
Mandarin / Czech and English subtitles, 98 min
In three interrelated parts, the film progressively focuses on individual members of a family living in a mining town in western China. The episodes follow on from one another chronologically, although they do not simply trace the continual development of a single family. In the symbolic way their lives are bound together, the protagonists – namely, the daughter who has to choose between her dreams and a suitable marriage, the son who is about to start life down the mine, and the father who has just retired – represent the universal lot of men and women from mining towns, which stands in stark contrast to their aspirations. The film does not seek to severely criticise the given situation, nor are the environment and heroes portrayed for effect; on the contrary, they seem natural, displaying a sense of immediacy, and are consistent with the perception of ordinary Chinese people, who, by their own admission, are not ones to complain. In its subtle presentation and treatment, the film becomes a delicate celebration of ordinary life, without seeming critical or conciliatory, and is thus all the more authentic and eloquent.