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So Long, My Son by Wang Xiaoshuai (Beijing Bicycle, Shanghai Dreams) spans three decades and many life changing Chinese policies. Throughout this family epic he gives a face to the vast numbers of individuals affected by government decisions.
Liu Yaojun (Wang Jingchun) and Wang Liyun (Yong Mei) live an ordinary life in 1980s China. They have jobs, they have close friends, they have a child. They are happy.
Until one day their young son XingXing drowns while playing with his best friend HaoHao. Yaojun and Liyun are devastated. Their friendship comes under strain because of guilt and shame. They decide to move to the city, to start a new life and get away from the place where they lived their happiest moments and their most tragic one.
As the world around them keeps changing rapidly, they try to go on. They adopt a new son, who can’t handle the pressure of replacing a child he never knew and eventually runs away from home. The couple finds themselves lost in their memories and questions surrounding their son’s death. Then they decide to go back to their hometown. To see their old friends, who have changed so much and their old apartment, which hasn’t changed at all.
Sometimes it takes a lifetime before you get to say goodbye.
So Long, My Son premiered at the Berlinale 2019 and Wang Jingchun and Yong Mei both won the Silver Bear for Best Actor and Best Actress.