Up the Mountain
Master painter and teacher Shen Jianhua moved from Shanghai to a mountaintop Yunnan village years ago. He offers drawing lessons to numerous guests, including elderly village ladies who produce colourful folk canvases. The women are delightful, chattering as they paint and cook, revealing much about their calm approach to the ups and downs – the very rhythms – of life. One of Shen’s pupils is less serene: newly married, he’s torn between staying and leaving for the big city. His story exemplifies the clash between modernity and tradition in today’s China. Using an aspect ratio similar to a painting, director Zhang Yang (Festival favourite Shower, SFF 1999) has crafted an exquisite, unhurried portrait of a community and the joy of creating.