Up the Mountain gives a glow into a China that is probably unknown to most. The majority of the films about China today focus on cheap labor, human rights violations as well as the country's growing economic power and position as the world's largest commodity producer. These are important issues, but the unidirectional focus has made it difficult to see China from other angles. Zhang Yang's film breaks with this one-sided approach, reminding us that all countries – including China – carry different and complex narratives.
Up the Mountain is a portrait of a quiet village life in Yunnan Province, a place where culture is ubiquitous and the rhythm of life follows the rhythm of nature. Using multiple cameras and precise picture frames, this portrait is idyllic without idealizing it. The film sets aside condemnation and politics to tell a sincere story of fellowship and warmth, a story that evokes both inspiration and a real sense that everything is possible.
The heart of the local community
The artist Shen Jianhua, who left Shanghai in favor of a life on top of the mountain, is the hub of the film, just as paternal. . .
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