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When The Bough Breaks

Directed by Ji Dan

CinemAsia / China / 2011 / Experimental / 147 mins / Mandarin with English subtitles with English subtitles / Color / HDCAM* / None Premiere


A young girl stands stubbornly in a frozen wasteland, gazing into the distance at brand-new buildings far beyond her reach: this opening shot underlines the theme of When the Bough Breaks, a persuasive, powerful documentary about a family living on the edges of Beijing. The family’s two daughters, Xia and Ling, and their son Gang form the heart of the story; they share none of the riches of the nearby capital city, but share with one another a burden too heavy for their ages: how to find funding for their education, and change their fate with little to no help from their parents.

Their dominant, unreasonable father possesses neither the will nor the ability to support their education, while their mother merely dreams of some kind of miraculous outside intervention, whether from an Auntie or the lecherous Mr. Chen. Left on their own, the kids must fight the battle themselves, led by the strong-willed Xia. Continuously confronting their parents, both Xia and Ling finally are forced to drop out of school, in order to afford to send Gang to college. Though the family remains intact after all the fights, the cuts are raw and hard and difficult to heal.Directed by one of China’s most significant female filmmakers, Ji Dan, When the Bough Breaks is a raw, at times unblinking portrayal of the underclass of contemporary China.

Artist Hung Liu will no longer be able to attend the screening of When the Bough Breaks due to personal matters.

Co-presented by: Oakland Museum of California (OMCA)


Cinematographer: Ji Dan
Editor: Ji Dan, Sha Qing

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Dates & Times

When The Bough Breaks

New People
March 21, 2013 7:00 pm Buy Tickets Buy Tickets

When The Bough Breaks

Oakland Museum of California
March 23, 2013 2:00 pm Buy Tickets Buy Tickets