Winter after Winter, shot in black-and-white, is set during the Japanese occupation of Manchuria. It is 1944 and the Japanese are searching north-eastern China for young men who can be set to work as forced labour. In order to secure the bloodline, father Lao Si asks his youngest son to make sister-in-law Kun pregnant. Lao Si's second son has fled the Japanese, the third is impotent. Just when the shy boy is stooping over Kun, he and his brother are taken away.
Without his father knowing, the youngest son returns seven months later and hides in Kun’s cellar. As a result, Kun does get pregnant, which leads to all kinds of complications when she is married off and the fugitive son, now a guerrilla, occasionally returns home. Xing Jian situates the action in his home region and films the harsh life of a family in long takes with fluid camerawork.