This is the first and last film from its director Hu Bo. After its premiere in Berlin in 2018 where it was awarded a Fipresci prize, the film has toured festivals worldwide, picking up huge critical acclaim. It had just been awarded Best Film in the Golden Horse Awards.
In the northern Chinese city of Manzhouli, they say there is an elephant that simply sits and ignores the world. Manzhouli becomes an obsession for the protagonists of this film, a longed-for escape from the world in which they find themselves. Among them is schoolboy Bu, on the run after pushing a bully down the stairs and accidentally injuring him. Bu’s classmate Ling has run away from her mother and fallen for the charms of her teacher. The bully's older brother Cheng feels responsible for the suicide of a friend. And finally, along with many other characters whose fates are inextricably bound together, there’s Mr. Wang, a sprightly pensioner whose son wants to offload him into a home. In virtuoso visual compositions, the film tells the story of one single suspenseful day from dawn to dusk, when the train to Manzhouli is set to depart.
English premiere 2pm Sunday December 9th ICA Cinema
Born in 1988 in Jinan, Shangdong, China, Hu studied Film Directing at the Beijing Film Academy in 2014. His short film Distant Father (2014) won Best Director at Golden Koala Chinese Film Festival, and Night Runner (2014) was selected by Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival. His debut feature An Elephant Sitting Still, which was then still in progress, was selected by the FIRST IFF Financing Forum in 2016. In the following year, Hu Bo participated in FIRST Training Camp under the supervision of Béla Tarr, where he completed the short film Man in the Well.
He has also written two novels Huge Crack and Bullfrog, both published in 2017.
Hu Bo took his own life soon after finishing An Elephant Sitting Still.
2014 Distant Father (short)
2014 Night Runner AKA Fleeing By Night (short)
2016 Man in the Well (short)
2017 An Elephant Sitting Still (feature)
Director of Photography
1.85:1 / Sound 5.1
Da Xiang Xi Di Er Zuo (大象席地而坐)
"Melancholic and mesmerising...the first and last film from the late Chinese director has a desolate beauty"
Extraordinary social drama-thriller...The genius of the film is the grasp of its narrative. We are held by these grim games of fate, some genuinely life-or-death. We are held by the spinning ironies of a story in which every main character, at some moment, interacts with the others. And we are held by the seemingly real-time attention and intensity — and the nerve-exposing tragic candour — with which the director tells his tale.
"For a first-time director, the confidence and proficiency of Hu’s cinematic expression astonishes....It’s a terrible waste to lose such a remarkable, uncompromising voice in today’s government-censored, market-dictated Chinese cinema – let alone at just 29 years of age. One can only hope that this film which, for all its overt and emphatic bleakness did not end on a tragic note, could offer some sense of solace to its audience, even if it had not been enough for its brilliant maker.