My mother died on August 29th, 1992, by the lunar calendar, when I was twelve years old. Twenty-seven years later, my memory returned to the moments related to my mother's death and the daily routine in the village, and it occurred to me to write about a series of events spanning the week around my mother's death. My third sister and I had just returned from school when we saw our mother's body lying on a mat in the corner of the main room. We knelt in front of her and cried. There were tears in the corners of her eyes, even though the hospital had declared her dead hours before. However, I didn't want to believe that the mother I had seen five days earlier was now dead. Even after all these years, it still feels unreal. [...] I used the film to reconcile myself with my twelve-year-old self and with my mother to whom I couldn't say goodbye. I saw myself terrified and helpless while grappling with my mother's death. I saw my grandmother having to face the pain of losing her daughter. I saw my father full of guilt, kneeling in front of the grave crying, but still lamenting the injustice that fate had not given him a son. The film bears the memory of that summer. I tried to present those memories in the most simple and concise way. Emotions and feelings are restrained just like a painting without any modification or rendering. Like the people I have known, the characters in my film eat, walk and sleep every day and then suddenly face the fine line between birth and death.
My name is Li Dongmei. I was born in a rural village in Chongqing Province, China. Futian, the nearest town to the village, is about three hours away by foot. I finished middle school in Futian and then went to SISU (Sichuan International Studies University) to study English and American literature. I was the first student in my village to attend university. My grandfather was very proud of me, and said that all he ever wished was to be able to write his name. We had no TV but my grandfather was good at telling stories that were vivid and alive. My sisters and I were fascinated by all the characters and images in the stories he told, and it was these stories that motivated me to study literature. I became an English teacher in Futian middle school for four years. I loved being with my students but I felt that I wanted to try different things. I started a new career setting up kindergartens. I also started taking photos for the first time in my life and I felt very peaceful and satisfied taking them, so I thought maybe I could become a professional photographer. But I realized that unless I took really good photos the information that I could show in them would be limited. One day, having nothing else to do, I walked into an empty cinema. It was showing a film about an Iranian girl's everyday life. It was a very simple story that reflected my own life. It was about her father who had always wanted a son, and how she was always fighting him over this. I knew how she felt and I could feel the connection between our two lives. In many ways, they were far apart but still very similar. I decided then that I wanted to study filmmaking. In 2013, at the age of 31, with no understanding of film, I was lucky enough to be accepted into the Victorian College of the Arts at Melbourne University. I then returned to China, and after doing some small film jobs for Chinese companies I started planning my first feature film.