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Directed by Huang Ji
These three films by Huang Ji—a fiercely independent voice in Chinese filmmaking—comprise a remarkable coming-of-age trilogy, charting both the personal journey of a young woman (played in all three by recurring star Yao Honggui) as well as the social transformation of China itself. Inspired by Huang’s own adolescence growing up in rural China, these films offer a clear-eyed, unadorned, and uncensored look at the experiences of one of the country’s most vulnerable demographics: young women without family support who must fight to survive in a rapidly changing economic landscape. Even as they navigate the most difficult of circumstances, Huang’s characters remain dignified and self-sufficient, their stories captured with penetrating social observation and a painterly visual style that she’s developed in collaboration with Ryuji Otsuka, who’s served as cinematographer on all three films and codirector and producer of two.