Shun Li and the Poet

100 minutes 2012

A young Chinese woman (Jia Zhang-ke regular Tao Zhao), transported to a Venetian coastal town as an indentured servant, strikes up a friendship with an aging Yugoslavian fisherman (Rade Serbedzija), but their growing intimacy angers the Chinese crime boss who monitors her performance and controls her access to her young son back home. Predictable but gently told, this touching Italian feature marks the dramatic debut of documentary maker Andrea Segre, who illuminates the hardship and injustice suffered by Chinese immigrant labor better than she could have in a factual film. An opening reference to Qu Yuan, the ancient poet whose spirit is said to mingle with the rivers, nicely links the Venetian setting with the Chinese village where the young woman's heart still lies. In Italian with subtitles.

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