A woman fights tradition, bureaucracy and provincialism in order to seek justice for her wronged husband in this satirical look at modern China. Winner of Best Film & Best Actresss 1992 Venice Film Festival.
The wife of a chili farmer becomes involved in a one-woman crusade against the Chinese bureaucracy in Zhang Yimou's fable of contemporary China. When farmer Wan Qinglai gets into a violent argument with village head Wang Shantang and is hospitalized with groin injuries, his hugely pregnant wife Qiuju demands justice. Humiliated by Wang Shantang, Qiuju rejects his cash compensation and travels instead to the provincial capital. There the indomitable peasant woman undertakes the daunting task of extracting a simple apology from the labyrinthine bureaucracy.
Production companies: Sil-Metropole Organisation (HK); Youth Film Studio of Beijing Film Academy (China) "The Story of Qiu Ju" had its American premiere at the New York Film Festival. It was shown in competetion at the Venice Film Festival September 7, 1992 where it won top honors. Director Zhang Yimou is the most celebrated member of the school of contemporary Chinese filmmakers known as the "The Fifth Generation." Yimou worked as a farmer and factory laborer during Mao's Cultural Revolution (1966-1978) before becoming, first, a cinematographer, and then a director. Though Yimou's work has been very well received on the international cinema circuit, his two most acclaimed and widely-seen films "Ju Dou" (1991) and "Raise the Red Lantern" (1992) were banned in China. The Chinese goverment considered the films dangerously controversial in their sexual and political attitudes. At the same time, Yimou was being criticized in the Chinese press for his adulterous, off-screen affair with leading lady Gong Li. With "The Story of Qiu Ju" Zhang Yimou makes a partial return to the social realism that marked Yimou's breakthrough film "Red Sorghum" (1988), though this time in a contemporary setting. Yimou employs a semi-documentary technique, using hidden cameras and long-range microphones to capture many of the crowd scenes. Local people from the remote village where the film was shot appear as extras and bit players; many of the bureaucratic workers play themselves. Without sacrificing his artistic integrity, Yimou presents a more favorable view of the Chinese government in 'The Story of Qiu Ju' than in some of his earlier films. The powers-that-be in Beijing were so happy with the 'The Story of Qiu Ju' that they lifted the ban on Yimou's other films and honored the director with an offical banquet. They also gave the film a co-production credit with one of their own studios (Youth Film Studio of Beijing Film Academy), though 'The Story of Qiu Ju' was, in fact, financed entirely by Hong Kong money.
"...[Gong Li] emerges as a figure of astonishing fortitude....[THE STORY OF QIU JU] is exceptionally down-to-earth..." - 04/16/1993 New York Times, p.C8
"...Masterful..." - Recommended - 04/01/1994 Premiere, p.143
"...An enthralling film of startling passion and bite....A movie you won't forget..." - 04/15/1993 Rolling Stone, p.72
"...The movie's style and narrative seem inspired by postwar Italian neorealism....Watching the film, we find the humor for ourselves..." - 05/28/1993 Chicago Sun-Times, p.52
"The story was filmed between RAISE THE RED LANTERN and TO LIVE during a fruitful collaboration between Gong and director Zhang Yimou." USA Today, p.4E