Brave Father

EnglishChina2007 / 48 & 25min
導演:LI, Jun-hu

In 2002, Han Peiyin’s son Shengli was accepted in a university, and arrived to the city of Xi’an from his rural home.  To pay for Shengli’s living expense and tuition, the Han sold off all valuable things in his home and came to work in Xi’an to make money. Though a lifetime peasant, Han firmly believed knowledge had the power to change destinies, and expected his son to be successful.

Job for peasant workers was getting harder to find as more and more peasants came to the city. Han could barely make RMB 400 a month, yet Shengli needed RMB 9,000 a year for college. The place Han stayed at cost one RMB a night. At night, he used a brick as his pillow. His son Shengli would think what to eat after class. He saw the bottled water his classmate was holding and could only think of taking the empty bottle and sell it for money.

Graduation was near. A shy youth, Shengli’s job prospect was dim. He felt this city was becoming further away from him. Despite his education, he might end up earning less than his father. 

For years elder Han carried with him a notebook, in which he entered records of his borrowings. Most of them were small sums of 10 or 20 RMB. He also noted his expectations for his son: “Around the year 2013 or so, that is, roughly in my sixties, Shengli will take our family to Beijing for a sightseeing visit. We will have plenty of money by then…”


Li, Junhu

Graduates with a degree in photography from Xi'an Academy of Fine Arts.
He currently works for the International Division of Shaanxi TV Station.

His works include:
participant in Chinese Independent Film Exhibition in 2004
participant in Asian TV Program Producers Forum in 2005
BORN IN 1977
participant in Sichuan International TV Festival in 2005
winner at the 28th Tokyo Video Festival in 2006
STORY OF GROWING UP (a 20-episode documentary series)
participant in Chinese TV Documentary Development Forum in 2005
one of 10 winners of Chinese Documentaries Excellence Award in 2005
top prize in Shaanxi Press Award
Traveling a Thousand Li in Search of Mother
participant in France FIPA International TV Festival in 2006
nominated for China Film & Television Academy Awards
one of 10 winners of Chinese Documentaries Excellence Award in 2006
participant in Chinese Producer Award at Guangzhou International Documentary Film Festival in 2006.

From The Director

Money is a very heavy word, especially when life is full of borrowing and reimbursing. Its heaviness even surpasses money itself. Some people use mineral water to wash face, rinse mouth and satisfy thirst, while others pick up and sell the empty bottles for food money. Some people sail through college easily paying their way, while others have to sell everything in their possession.

Han Peiyin comes to the city with a hope—because his son Han Shengli is a college student. This explains why he lives optimistically with a book full of debt records. He believes Shengli will have a different future.

Longing can be seen in everybody with hope. When you feel you're getting closer to what you long for, you can endure any hardship, because you see a beautiful future in front of you. It will be hard to realize it may be not as good as expected, or even just an empty dream. When Shengli looks into the distance from the top of the school building and muttering"I think I will stay here", we are led to believe that's something that will naturally happen.

Having a better life is what everybody wants, unless one feels one's current life is already good enough. As a rural college student in the city, Shengli struggles to made ends meet. He understood the better life to be found in cities. Staying in the city is his biggest wish, as it's his father's.

"Around 2013 or so, by then we will be rich, our family will go to Beijing to have a good visit for a couple of days, and certainly we will…"When Han Peiyin was longing for the future, Shengli uttered his tired and desperate speech before the camera. Words he couldn't bring to his father, "He has to accept it, and he must face reality. That's life."

Living in a prosperous city, believing dream is within reach, but in fact their dream is as remote as ever. When a belief you've held since childhood collapses and you suddenly find life is not what seems, what will you do?

In the end, in an act deserving our respect, Han Peiyin accepts this unacceptable reality.

Film Festival

※ Award The 2nd Chinese Documentary Festival, the Best short documentary, 2009
※ Selected in the 20th FIPA International Festival of Audiovisual Programs, 2008
※ The 1st VARIFAIR International Film Festival, 2009
※ New Asia Film Festival, 2009
※ Rhode Island International Film Festival, 2009

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