Under the gloomy sky of a small town in northern China, different protagonists’ lives are intertwined in this furious tale of nihilistic rage. While protecting his friend from a dangerous school bully, 16-year-old WEI Bu pushes the tormentor down a staircase. WEI escapes the scene and later learns that the bully is hospitalized and gravely injured.
WEI’s neighbor, the 60-year-old WANG Jin, is estranged from his family and, with nothing to lose, decides to join him. Later the pair is joined by HUANG Ling, WEI’s classmate. She is bedeviled by a destructive affair with a married school official. Together, this unlikely and desperate trio, decide their only hope is to flee as the bully’s gangster brother, enraged parents, and vindictive school authorities embark on a cold-blooded hunt for WEI across town. As WEI threads his way through the urban wilderness, he begins to come to terms with his own lost life. In the end, he boards a long-distance bus with HUANG and WANG toward a city in Manchuria, where it is a rumored that a circus elephant is said to be sitting still, seemingly oblivious to pain and tribulations of the world at large.
Runtime: 230 min
Director of Photography :
ZHANG Yu As YU Cheng
PENG Yuchang As WEI Bu
WANG Yuwen As HUANG Ling
LIU Congxi As WANG Jin
Berlin International Film Festival - Berlin Best First Feature Award Special Mention, FIPRESCI Prize
Hong Kong International Film Festival - Audience Choice Prize
New Directors New Films, NY
Moscow International Film Festival
Sydney International Film Festival
Edinburgh Film Festival
Kalvory International Film Festival
New Horizon International Film Festival
Locarno International Film Festival
TORONTO International Film Festival
Born in 1988 in China, Hu Bo graduated from Beijing Film Academy in 2014 with a B.F.A. degree in directing. His short film Distant Father (2014) won Best Director at Golden Koala Chinese Film Festival, and Night Runner (2014) was selected by Taipei Golden Horse Film Academy. His debut feature An Elephant Sitting Still, which was then still in progress, was selected by the FIRST International Film Festival Financing Forum in 2016. In the following year, Hu Bo participated in FIRST Training Camp under the supervision of Béla Tarr, where he completed the short film Man in the Well. He has also written two novels Huge Crack and Bullfrog, both published in 2017.
Hu Bo took his own life soon after finishing An Elephant Sitting Still.
F I L M O G R A P H Y
An Elephant Sitting Still - 2018
"Hu's first (and sadly last) feature weaves together its narrative threads clearly and sturdily."
—The Hollywood Reporter
"An Elephant Sitting Still is the work of raw, intimidating talent driven by a creative fury"
—The Film Stage
“The confidence and proficiency of Hu’s cinematic expression astonishes”
—The Film Stage
“The film’s images extricate beauty from the most dismal of situations and together with his actors, all of whom deliver performances of astounding sensitivity, Hu manages to evoke emotions so deeply felt and overwhelming, they compensate for any narrative contrivances.”
—Sight and Sound
“The feature proves a delicately layered, deftly shot work that makes an incisive statement about the prevalence of apathy, arrogance and egotism in contemporary China and beyond.”
"Hu paints a picture of existential malaise with such a fine-tuned control of mood, imagery and pacing that the end result resembles a marriage of Jia Zhangke and Bela Tarr."