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Material and emotional challenges when building a new home after a natural disaster
2010 China Screen Festival - Toulouse
2009 International Lepzig Festival for Documentary and Animated Film - Leipzig
2009 La Chine s'éveille - Paris
A terrible flood destroys the home of the AH family in a small village in China’s Southern Guangdong province. Life has been a constant struggle for them, but this disaster turns their existence into a nightmare. Fortunately, AH Liang, his wife Xiang and their two children and dog find shelter in a neighbour’s unused shack. But they know this is only a temporary situation.
As they hesitantly embark on the almost insurmountable task of building a new house –their crop had also been destroyed, and they don’t have any source of income left- they will experience what solidarity or lack of it can mean when disaster strikes.
The ensuing challenging period brings the couple’s relationship to the brink of crisis, and threatens the ties inside the family unit. It also tests the solidarity inside the village, and confronts the attitudes of local and regional governments when they come to apply their disaster policies which seem to be insufficient for the severely poor.
In the process, our protagonists will learn that there is more to a home than merely bricks laid on top of each other. During the long process of building a new house, step by step, they will have to confront many obstacles, both material and emotional. All members of the family will have been profoundly changed through the experience, and a new feeling of togetherness emerges. When they are finally able to move in, they have a new roof over their heads, but we keep wondering how long it actually might take for their new shelter to become again the hearth of the family.
The filmmakers followed and recorded the family’s struggle over a period of 12 months. In that sense, this film constitutes an observational marathon; revealing otherwise hidden long-term effects of human reactions to natural disaster.
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