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Directed by Hu Bo

China 2018 230 mins. In Mandarin with English subtitles

A student of Hungarian master Béla Tarr, Hu Bo completed this stunning debut feature at age 29 before taking his own life amidst creative differences with the film’s producers. Following four individuals undergoing economic and social hardship in China’s northern provinces, the group is led by Wei, a quiet 16-year-old mixed up in a violent situation after aiding his bullied friend. Joining Wei are his aging neighbor Wang, cast adrift from his family; Wei’s classmate Huang, caught in a downward-spiral affair with a school official; and Yang, who is tormented over a friend’s suicide. The quartet hears of an elephant quietly existing in a northern port city, and are drawn to it—each harboring their own motivation to leave their dismal and increasingly dangerous surroundings. “An intimate and empathetic portrait of human suffering, with performances of astounding sensitivity.” —Giovanni Marchini Camia, Sight & Sound. Winner, Best Film, 2018 Golden Horse Awards.

Filmography: First feature

Content warning: scenes of intense, graphic violence, including depiction of suicide