Out of Focus
- Cinéma du Réel International Documentary Festival
- China Women's Film Festival | *Grand Jury Prize*
- Filmpodium Zurich
- Spaces of Education Film Festivalette CIES 2017
"A documentary that strives to link the high and low — the horizon seen from the roof and the over-laden domestic interiors —, the here and the elsewhere — the seething urban life that surprises the rural children and the deserted calm of their villages." -- Cinéma du Réel
A companion piece to Another Year, this documentary offers a harsh and unsettled portrait of poverty and urbanism through the sobering point of view of "migrant children" in today's China.
On a steamy summer day, director Shengze Zhu (Another Year) began to teach photography at Lingzhi Elementary School in Wuhan, Central China, to a group of 23 “migrant children” aged 8-12. Lingzhi is known as the “rooftop” school, because its classes are held in a worn-down, four-floor apartment building with a rooftop playground, accommodating about 200 students.
All of the students are originally from rural areas but have moved to Wuhan, as their parents chase urban work and the possibility of a better life. When the children migrated from the tranquil countryside to the most populous city in Central China, most fell in love with the bustling city at first. They were intrigued by city life and ambitious about the future and their various dreams.
As it tells the stories of this group, the film focuses in detail on one pupil, Qin, and her family. An ambitious adolescent impatient to learn new technologies, Qin is furious that her parents have had three children. Forced to endure miserable low-income living conditions, and a discriminatory household registration policy known as hukou, Qin and her classmates share a common reality. The distance between the innocence of the their hopes and the brutality of their lives could hardly be starker.