In a remote mountain village in China a 13 year-old girl becomes a teacher.
Winner of the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, this tale of the teenage teacher who heads for the city to retrieve the absentee who will cost her an attendance bonus is, ostensibly, an uplifting satire. It recalls Zhang Yimou's earlier film, The Story Of Qiu Ju, a study of a country girl battling the urban odds.
Yet, perhaps the film's most interesting aspect isn't its assault on bureaucratic indifference or its idealised depiction of a humanist media, but the fact that Wei (Minzhi) accepts her lowly post not for the honour of serving the Party, but thanks to the lure of lucre.
This latter-day neo-realist drama is much more ambitious, concerned with exposing the shameful plight of countless children in modern China.