Taking home the Grand Jury Prize at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, Nanfu Wang and Jialing Zhang’s One Child Nation is not for the faint of heart. Taking a frank and occasionally explicit look at the wide-reaching consequences of China’s one-child policy, their documentary pulls back the curtain on the policy’s true cost.
Introduced in 1979 to curb China’s explosive population growth, the one-child policy promised prosperity for the nation. In stark contrast, Wang shares heartbreaking interviews with families in China who gave up or abandoned their children and are still mourning the senseless loss. Others put emotion aside to follow orders. Although the one-child policy ended in 2015, that the ramifications of those 35 years will be felt for decades to come. — Kailey Carruthers
“Using a remarkable personal lens, the film examines the reverberations of propaganda on broken families across multiple generations. The cumulative effect creates the sense that its destructive effects continue to be felt well beyond China’s borders…
As a brilliant combination of cultural reporting and interpersonal reckoning, One Child Nation manages to encapsulate decades of underreported events within a palatable narrative accessible even to viewers with no prior understanding of the policy’s history. Lacing the edit with images of posters and music designed to reinforce the country’s repressive standards for family life, Wang reveals the intricate system that caused her and so many others to accept these restrictions throughout their youth and into early adulthood.” — Eric Kohn, Indiewire