Huang Ji’s 2012 debut feature, Egg and Stone, shows the world of rural Chinese life through a perspective seldom seen, that of a young girl “left behind” in the reluctant care of her aunt and uncle in a small Hunan village. Huang’s 14-year-old heroine struggles with the sharp pain of her early sexual discoveries, compounded by the casual horror of abuse at the hands of her uncle.
An exhumation of her own past traumas and revelations, Egg and Stone was shot in Huang’s own hometown village with a cast of non-actors. Awarded the Tiger Award for Best Feature Film at the 2012 Rotterdam Film Festival, Egg and Stone (trailer can been seen here) has been lauded for its striking, clear-eyed photography and unflinching storytelling, laying bare the private tragedy of a girl displaced from her own home and body. dGenerate Films and Icarus Films are proud to now include Egg and Stone in our catalogue of bold independent films from China.
In her follow up feature, The Foolish Bird (Ben Niao), which recently premiered at the 2017 Berlinale, Huang again explores the phenomenon of young people in rural villages “left behind” by their parents seeking economic opportunity in big cities, and the ruptures in their private lives and personal security that these adolescents must navigate on their own. As in Egg and Stone, a restlessness and grasping for love and stability drive Huang’s characters to move through an unstable world, creating new narratives of China’s rural woman and girls and painting The Foolish Bird as an emotional and thematic companion piece to Egg and Stone.
Speaking with V Cinema, Huang said of her new film, “The film is not a sequel to Egg and Stone per se, though [cinematographer and Huang’s husband Ryuji] Ozuka and I took to filming it again in my hometown, and used the same non-professional cast we worked with in the earlier film.”
Following the world premiere of The Foolish Bird in Berlin where the film received a Special Mention from the Jury, Huang has been profiled by V Cinema, and reviewed by the Goethe Institute and Sino Cinema.