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In this short documentary, filmmaker (and native of Beichuan, the town most affected in the disaster) Zijian Mu profiles two families who each lost their only child in the quake. Jiang Hongyou and Fu Guangjun, in their early 40s, are finally able to conceive a new child after several attempts. Fang Yonggui and Yang Jianfen, several years older, aren't as lucky. The film documents the latter couple's struggle to adopt a child, while the former pair pour all their energy into raising their new baby girl.
Most stories of the Sichuan earthquake touch upon political and economic implications -- in effect, how Beichuan plays in Beijing. I'm certainly guilty of this myself. But it's important to remember that there are many thousands of families just like the ones profiled in this film; families that, in the span of three horrendous minutes, saw their entire world upended. It is the experience of these kinds of families, replicated all over the country, that provide the clearest lens available into how families in contemporary China cope with unexpected disaster.
A version of this post appears at ChinaFile, an Atlantic partner site.
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