Based on Zhang Manling’s semi-autobiographical novella Such a Beautiful Place, Zhang Nuanxin’s Sacrificed Youth is a lyrical tale about the generation of the “sent-down youths” who were expelled from cities to rural areas during the Cultural Revolution. Working and living with Dai minority people in the remote Yunnan province, 17-year-old Li Chun, a shy Han girl from Beijing, gradually adopts Dai ways of clothing, a process connected to her increasing awareness of feminine sexuality. The most fascinating details emerge in the mundane, in the bamboo house of the Dai family, a space of slower rhythm. A bowl, a candle, and a bonfire: these quotidian, insignificant details of daily life are elevated into something transcendent. Torn between disillusion with the present and an unsure longing for a generation’s sacrificed youth, Zhang’s film charms today’s audiences through its exotic landscape, its pervasive, contemplative, female voiceover, and the undercurrents of desire that can never be pacified. Curated by Panpan Yang (CMS) as part of the Graduate Student Curatorial Program.
(Zhang Nuanxin, 1985, 92 min., DCP courtesy of the China Film Archive)
Co-sponsored by the Film Studies Center and the Center for East Asian Studies with generous support from a Title VI National Resource Center Grant from the United States Department of Education.