Three Sisters

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San zimei

“China’s most acclaimed documentary-maker consolidates his lofty reputation with Three Sisters.” — Neil Young, Hollywood Reporter

Director: Wang Bing
Year: 2012
Country: France, Hong Kong
Running time: 153 mins

Producers: Sylvie Faguer, Mao Hui
Photography: Huang Wenhai, Li Peifeng, Wang Bing
Editor: Adam Kerby, Wang Bing
Sound: Fu Kang
In Mandarin with English subtitles

With: Sun Yingying, Sun Zhenzhen, Sun Fenfen, Sun Shunbao, Sun Xianliang, Zhu Fulian, Liu Kaimen

“Wang Bing confirms his mastery of the documentary form with his new film Three Sisters. A work of sustained observation and exquisite empathy, the film takes us deeply into worlds most of us have barely imagined. In the high mountains of the remote western Yunnan province of China, Wang and his two cameramen discovered a family of three little sisters. The eldest, Yingying, is ten; the middle sister Zhenzhen is six, and the youngest, tiny Fenfen, is four. Their father is away working in a distant city; mother seems out of the picture.

So it’s just these three girls who make up a complete functional family. Living in utter poverty (their home is a cave-like dwelling – dark, dirty, littered with root vegetables, shared with their few scrawny domestic animals), they work hard, constantly, in dirt, exhausting themselves with the daily labour of subsistence agriculture. There is a neighbouring grandfather and aunt with whom they sometimes eat. But what we see is close to a pure world of little children forced into the most difficult kind of premature adulthood. The film’s tone is anything but despairing, and the absolute opposite of condescending. There is a kind of invincible energy, a life force that pushes our three heroines to survive, and Wang captures their world with unimaginable beauty and a compassionate, engaged, committed eye.” — Shelly Kraicer, Cinema Scope

Festivals: Venice, Toronto 2012