A masterful nomadic road movie set in his dusty native province of Gansu, in Northwestern China, Bartel and Adikeer, two Yugur ethnic minority brothers, venture out with their two-humped camels to join their herdsman father, following the death of their grandfather.

During the long trek, following the path of a dried-up river bed, the children’s conflicts play out while the heartbreaking desertification of the Yugur grazing lands—signifying the end of a traditional way of life—serves as the backdrop. More than just a tale of stubborn figures pitted against an unforgiving landscape, Li’s film earns its emotional payoff thanks to the incredible performances of the young leads. Featuring the sand-blown splendor of infinitely sprawling vistas, ghost towns, and touches of the fantastic, River Road is an absolute masterpiece of Chinese filmmaking.

This programme is supported by Film Hub NI. Part of the Belfast Film Festival young programmers project in association with QFT.

This season was selected and curated by Peize Li. A former graduate of Queens University, Belfast. Peize Li’s Theme was diversity of Chinese Cinema and Minority Groups in China. She writes:  ‘There are the 56 ethnic groups in China. The diverse stories of different ethnic groups on screen contributes to the diversity of Chinese cinema. This is a collection that involves classic films and films that tells stories of minority ethnic groups of China. Both the collections of classic Chinese films and films of Chinese minority ethnic group involves films that are made by most prominent Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Generation of Chinese Filmmakers and latest new filmmakers of China.  From the film The Horse Thief made in the year of 1986 to the River Road made in 2014, Chinese film industry and film cultures witnessed massive changes. While the Chinese film industries growing rapidly during these years, the major roles that used to be played by the state-owned studios are now played by different types of producers. In recent years, the films that tell stories about minority ethnic groups are frequently paid attentions by the world-wide audiences.’