This unpolished documentary about a hunting couple in the cold, snowy north east of China, is the second from a trilogy by Yu Guangyi about disappearing cultures. After the disconcerting report of the rapidly disappearing lumberjack tradition in Timber Gang (2007), Yu documents with painful yet beautiful precision in Survival Song how an unemployed forest ranger maintains his family by illegally hunting wild boar and other small game.
Together with his wife, the ranger lives in a rickety wooden hut in the wilderness. There is no electricity or mains water. Their little daughter is at school in the town. Han has to work hard, but is not dissatisfied. When his jack of all trades, the uncivilised Xiao Li, leaves him in the lurch without giving a reason, Han decides to take him on again anyway. Then the unstoppable industrialisation of China also reaches this backwater and a large water reservoir is built close to Han's home to supply drinking water to nearby Harbin. In vain, the couple resist their enforced departure. The corrupt government plays an unexpected trump card and the family is forced to fall apart.
Yu films emphatically, intuitively and with great poetic feeling for human drama. Survival Song pays homage to the vulnerable, hard-working underclass of China who, while loyal to those less fortunate than themselves, are marginalised by progress. (GT)

Original title
Xiao li zi
Filmmaker
Yu Guangyi
Premiere
European premiere
Country
China
Year
2008
Medium
DV cam PAL
Length
90’
Language
Mandarin
Producer
Yu Guangyi
Production Company
Fanhall Films
Sales
Fanhall Films
Cinematography
Yu Guangyi
Editor
Yu Guangyi, Wang Guosheng
Sound Design
Yu Guangyi, Yu Guangyi
Website
http://www.fanhall.com