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Shanghai Story

4 Shanghai Story  
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Action (Kung Fu Kids Part):  
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4 Kung Fu Kids Part II  
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Production Year: 2003
Genre: Drama
Language: Mandarin
Director: Peng Xiaolian
Starring: Joey Wang,
    Zheng Zhenyao,
    Josephine Koo,
    Feng Yuanzheng,
    Zhao Youliang

2004 The 24th Golden Rooster Award - Best Picture Award
2004 The 24th Golden Rooster Award - Best Director Award
2004 The 24th Golden Rooster Award - Best Actress Award
2004 The 24th Golden Rooster Award - Best Supporting Actor
2004 The 7th Shanghai International Film Festival - Best Actress


This film is a post Cultural Revolution (1966-76) story about how, after the destructive decade has ended for more than twenty years, its shadow still overcasts the life of people with wounded feelings and haunting memories. Setting in a garden house built in the former French Concession, the main characters of the film are members of a once "bourgeois" family, who used to own the house and a happy life before catastrophe fell upon them in the late 1960s. When the film begins, the house has long been shared by other families and the four adult children scattered in three places: Shanghai, Inner Mongolia and San Francisco. When the mother is suddenly hospitalized, all children, each with their own reasons, come back to her. The family reunion, however, is everything but a happy event: the four siblings cannot even have one peaceful dinner, and the mother has matters to settle with each of them.

To many Chinese, the damage of the Cultural Revolution is no less than that of WWII, since it caused thousands of families losing lives in a shameful way. Shanghai Story reflects upon the Revolution not by representing the spectacular street chaos and denouncement meeting - as done in such films as Blue Kite , To Live and Farewell, My Concubine , but by demonstrating how love, trust and communication are so difficult among family members. In other words, while the three films all involve group memory and attempt to recover details of the historical event, Shanghai Story focuses on a family shattered after the father was beaten to death. The question that the film raises is both a subversive and poignant one: a historical disaster may come to an end, but can people forgive each other and move on in their limited life time?

The Director's Statement by Xiaolian Peng

The personal reason for me to make this film is that I lost my father at the beginning of the Cultural Revolution when I was only 13 years old. Even now, I still have nightmares all the time. I wrote the film script based on many true incidents of my own family and my friends' families. Not only that all characters have real life models, every line from their lips is also recorded from real life - as one of my writer's habits. I always believe that true life is more amazing than any imagined drama. And I also believe in the significance of history writing and that when reconstructing history, ordinary people's state of mind and their condition of living matter just as much as things happening at the center of a political storm or historical event. That is why I do not intend to structure the film as a typical melodrama, but tried to build the story on details of daily life while using emotion as the narrative drive.

What I hope to depict in Shanghai Story is a Chinese family with lots of problems: h ow they come to terms with a painful and tumultuous past, and, how they attempt to reconcile it with the ever-changing world and values across different generations. Meanwhile, I also want to convey the irony that: what people destructed and condemned during the Cultural Revolution - traditional Chinese culture and the materialistic civilization from the West - are what they are after today. Although one revolution after another seemed to have eliminated all bourgeoisies from the last Communist country standing, the younger generation despises the older ones by claiming that they want to live a real bourgeois life, just as their grandfather once did.