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China Screen : A Better Life

Length: 52 mins
Code: IC-CSBetter

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Around 10 years ago, Houmen, a small coastal fishing town in Southern China, 230 kilometers away from Guangzhou, has witnessed the arrival of a bunch of farmers and their families. Coming from some different regions, and mostly from a distant village in the Sichuan Province, they were in search of a better life: the conditions of their rural life had become unbearable for them. Here, they had to learn from scratch everything for their new activity: the skills of catching fish, but also the art of swimming or the dealing with seasickness… And they had to accept priority for the local fishermen, active on these shores since generations. Since those early days, they still continue to communicate in their own dialect, and they haven’t really mixed with the locals. They don’t even eat fish, nor do they worship the gods of the seas in the local temple. But gradually they learn more and more about the traditions and every morning, even before daybreak, dozens of their small ships would return from their daily outing and pull in by the port, attracting many people for the fish market. The women are negotiating with the buyers from Canton, settling the accounts, while their husbands busy themselves preparing the next fishing expedition. Fan Ping, Si Mei and their two children form one of these migrant families. Relentlessly, Fan Ping starts everyday in the middle of the night, whatever the weather conditions, attempting, and succeeding, to sustain his family. Since he came here more than a decade ago, he has bought two ships, and they do have indeed a better life. Yet, he’s still not convinced that he wants to stay…The nostalgia for the fields in his home village seems to grow in his mind. This is not at all the case of his wife, who doesn’t want to return to farming, and much prefers to build their future in Houmen. Sooner or later, won’t they have to give up their dream of a better life and return to their roots? Or it is the children who will decide to their place?

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