IFFAM | Thriller depicts poverty and social injustice in China

Yukun Xin

Chinese director Yukun Xin’s movie, “Wrath of Silence”, is a brave depiction of extreme poverty in a part of rural China, of which the mining industry takes control.

The film – which depicts the wealthiest characters as lawyers and businessmen – exposes social injustice, corruption, mineral exploitation and a dearth of business ethics among its characters.

Xin said there was no hesitation in directing and producing the film, even though the Chinese government is reportedly known for censoring such material.

Initially screened domestically at Xining’s first film festival in July, followed by its international premiere at the London Film Festival, the action-packed thriller highlights the oppression faced by residents living in poverty.

“People have this image of the Chinese government’s [film] censorship but I think sometimes this image can be exaggerated,” Xin told the Times on the sidelines of the second International Film Festival & Awards Macao (IFFAM).

“In this film, we are talking about poverty [and] what happens in the mining town. But we also want to demonstrate human relations. It’s more complex than just about social issues,” the director explained.

The film is about a miner who returns to his small family sheep farm, only to learn that his young son hasn’t come back from shepherding for two days.

Although the townsfolk turn a blind eye to the missing child, the father does not stop the search, even when he comes face-to-face with the corruption and danger that permeates the local mining business.
The director said that he extensively researched news about the mining industry and the exploitation of natural resources.

“There [have] been many films in China about this topic but they were mainly focused on single incidents and didn’t provide the audience with a bigger picture,” said the director, who hails from Baotou, China.

The movie was picked up for world sales by Fortissimo Films, as the company’s first new title since it filed for bankruptcy last year.

According to the filmmaker, who also directed “The Coffin in the Mountain,” the film aims to discover what lies behind the scenes of mining incidents.

The movie’s unusual structure is due to Xin’s desire to direct a movie that would not fall into the trap of a regular suspense film.

“I think what we did was something different compared to other films that have been made in China,” Xin said.

Commenting on the second IFFAM, the Chinese director praised the six-day festival for its professionalism in international coordination, management and production, comparing it favorably to other festivals.

“I’ve seen mistakes made by those [other] organizers, but as a young festival, Macau has done very well,” he said. 

However, Xin suggested that IFFAM reschedule directors’ and actors’ interactions with audiences, to be held after each screening, not before.

“In other film festivals that I’ve been to, usually there’s an interaction between the audience and the creative team after the screenings,” he said.

“If the audience haven’t seen the film, how much do they know about the film and what can they exchange with the creators of the film?” he questioned.

Moreover, Xin said that he was happy seeing movie-goers of all ages attending the festival, adding that if this continues, “the film festival will be much better in the future.”

“Wrath of Silence” was screened at the Cultural Center on Sunday, and is part of the festival’s Competition series.

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