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Year: 2006

Classification: Exempt - Ronin Recommends: PG

Runtime: 39 min

Produced In: USA

Directed By: Ruby Yang

Produced By: Thomas Lennon

Language: English subtitles

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Best documentary short subject.

No-one knows how old Gao Jun is. Four? Older? Younger? Whatever his biological age, he has none of the verbal babble, or ready tears, of a child his age. The film tracks this orphan for a year as his closest surviving kin - his uncles - weigh up what to do with him. The older uncle's dilemma: if he allows his children to play with Gao Jun, who is HIV-positive, they will be ostracized by terrified neighbours. The younger uncle's dilemma: so long as Gao Jun remains in the house, the young man may not be able to find a wife.

Gao Jun is one of just a handful of children we come to know in this film: Nan Nan who, after her parents' death, was shunned by relatives and left to live without adult care, with "Little Flower," her teenage sister; and the Huang siblings who vividly describe their ostracism at school. The suffering of these orphans is all the more devastating for being largely unnecessary, the function of misinformation about the nature of the disease.

Yet the film is more than a mere catalogue of woes. Nan Nan reveals her impish humour and joy; the Huang children resolve to become educated and outstrip those who shun them; and Gao Jun, in the closing scenes, demonstrates his ferocious determination to live.

"It's a very quietly stunning film. You look for movies that tell a deep story that is unexpected. This one does." - Nina Gilden Seavey, director Silverdocs.

"Yang gives expression to a voiceless generation in this poignant film of timeless beauty about a very serious crisis." – DOCNZ Festival.

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