Director: Liang Ying
Distributor: dGenerate Films
Part of: Generation Independent Movement
Hardworking, family breadwinner, educated. Although most female characters in the film may possess these characteristics, they are still constrained by an overwhelming factor: their social dependency on men. Ying Liang’s 2006 film, The Other Half, explores the life of Xiaofen – a legal clerk in the small inland industrial town of Zigong, Sichuan. Xiaofen’s interactions throughout the film depict the clear status difference between men and women living in rural China.
Ying Liang’s use of a non-polarised camera lens creates an eerily bland colour palette. The subdued use of colour exacerbates women’s dire situations in the film. Xiaofen, a clerk in a lawyer's office, listens to endless confessions, all of which (with one exception) are confessed by women.
A female victim of domestic abuse. A child bride. A hardworking woman who goes alone to the city to work and earn money returns home to an unfaithful husband. A woman who has lost custody of her child due to unemployment. An unwed and pregnant 18-year-old high school girl commits suicide after her boyfriend abandons her. Countless murders were committed against women.
Throughout the film, family problems, gender relations, infidelity, pre-marital sex, abuse, and loveless marriages burden these women. The film depicts these issues as those that stem from traditional Chinese feudal concepts and the impact of foreign ideas of sexual openness on conventional Chinese thinking.
Although the film depicts women in vulnerable societal positions and as second-class citizens, it still hints at a sense of empowerment. By being complainants, women challenge the traditional patriarchal society. The director deliberately includes several news reports, most notably one on a group of female factory workers. The narrator highly praises the contribution of these women as a force in contemporary society.
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