I am not able to travel out of the US currently due to my immigration status. And even if I could, I wouldn’t be able to, because travel costs money, takes time, and it’s really hard to allocate these two limited resources for travel in most of people’s situations. But I want to see the world! Which is why documentary cinema is my number one substitute for traveling. Some directors cater to this specific need perfectly by showing remote parts of the world through an unobstructed, honest and relentless lens.
Kaili Blues tells the story of Chen Sheng, a man who had been in prison for gang-related crimes and has now rebuilt his life as a medical doctor in a small decrepit clinic. His brother is a suspicious man who does not take good care of his small son. So when the little boy goes missing, Chen Sheng seeks out to find his nephew and takes us along. Literally: a large part of this film pans out as Chen Sheng or other characters walk along curvy paths in Guizhou. And it made me so happy.
I’ve read a bunch of reviews that place Kaili Blues within film theory, but I’m not smart enough to figure out if any of it holds. I honestly don’t care where this film stands in terms of theory but it’s beautiful, touching, clever and a splendid portrait of a region of China I know nothing about.
Kaili Blues (Lu bian ye can), 2015
Director: Gan Bi