Born in 1985 in Nanchang, Lei Lei graduated from Tsinghua University in 2009 with a master’s degree in animation. Since then, he has worked as an artist and independent animation director. His works include short animated films This Is Love (2010), winner of the Best Narrative Short Award at Ottawa International Animation Festival in 2010, Recycled (2012), selected at Annecy Film Festival, winner of the Grand Prix - Shorts & Non-Narrative Films at Holland Animation Film Festival, and many other short films which have been selected at numerous international festivals or exhibited in museums. Lei produces all his own shorts films, and Ningdu will be his first feature film.
During the Great Leap Forward movement of the late 1950s, Lei Lei’s granddad, Lei, is a young father. One day, his work unit sends him to the countryside, forcing him to leave behind his sick wife and his children. He has no choice but to follow the Chairman’s call to support the farmers. While he is away, Mum’s illness worsens and she passes away. He rushes home for the funeral but is asked to go back to the countryside right away. Heart broken, he has no other option but to leave his children to Child Services. Meanwhile the Chinese masses are busy forging the country’s steel and obeying the political campaigns of the Chairman. In the sky, the demigods laugh and fan the embers so that bigger fires rage across the land.
Time passes. Lei remarries with Chen, but happiness doesn’t last long as a new Revolution starts. As an ex-member of the Nationalist Party, Lei becomes a target for violent critics and is forced to undergo a re-education process to expiate his supposed failures. Meanwhile Chen and his son, Little Lei, are sent far from the city, and his two daughters are asked to renounce their ‘bad’ family.
Little Lei, now 12, teaches farmers how to read, write and sing. Chen learns how to become a farmer. Lei remains lonely and isolated for years. When the Revolution is finally over, the family is reunited. But, some wounds can never be healed…
2022 International Film Festival Rotterdam - In Tiger Competition 2022 Goteborg Film Festival - Ingmar Bergman Competition