AN ELEPHANT SITTING STILL

China, 2018 (MIFF 2018, New Voices from China)

Director: Hu Bo

Over four extraordinary hours, Hu Bo paints a compelling portrait of contemporary China in this FIPRESCI Prize-winning debut that shows the remarkable promise of a young director who took his own life before completing what’s also his final feature.

Bo’s fate flavours every moment of An Elephant Sitting Still with the stark reality of simply struggling to get by – and, combined with the film’s palpable empathy, precise framing and patient five-minute takes, marks the writer/director’s passing as an enormous loss for cinema.

Adapting one of Bo’s own stories, and owing debts to Krzysztof Kieslowski and Edward Yang, the Berlinale Forum FIPRESCI Critics Prize winner follows four northern Chinese residents. As accidents, tragedies and scandals shape the course of a particularly difficult day, the quartet are drawn to the mythical tale of the feature’s title: of an elephant in Manzhouli remaining motionless and ignoring everything around it.

"An Elephant Sitting Still, with its chilling sense of a suspended time in which history, culture, beauty, and even memory seem erased, is among the greatest recent films."  – The New Yorker


See also...

GIRLS ALWAYS HAPPY

In her first feature, emerging Chinese talent Yang Mingming writes, directs, edits and serves up a powerhouse performance in this involving account of a mother and daughter’s lives in a Beijing hutong... More »

THE WIDOWED WITCH

Winner of the top prize at this year’s Rotterdam film festival, Chinese director Cai Chengjie’s striking debut is a feminist fable of escapist revenge about a wronged woman who rebrands herself as a s... More »

ANGELS WEAR WHITE

After producing Golden Bear-winner Black Coal, Thin Ice (MIFF 2014) and helming acclaimed thriller Trap Street (MIFF 2014), Vivian Qu continues to interrogate crime, corruption and control in modern-d... More »

OLD BEAST

A triple award winner at Taiwan’s Golden Horse Film Festival, Old Beast is an engaging, gritty and gorgeously shot family drama about an out-of-control patriarch in a Chinese ghost town. ... Gambling,... More »

TOUCH OF SIN, A

"This ultraviolent attack on Chinese consumerism is a stunning slap in the face from previously-sedate director Jia Zhang-ke." - The Guardian ... The blood hits the floor in this confronting look at m... More »

UNCHARTED RIVER

In the years following the downfall of the Gang of Four, a recurrent theme in Chinese cinema has been the hardships faced by the people during the Cultural Revolution. Uncharted River is more successf... More »

Select a festival
Search The Film Archive
Browse By Director