KimStim and the Film Society of Lincoln Center have released a trailer for Hu Bo’s final film, An Elephant Sitting Still. The film follows Wei Bu, a young Chinese man who injures a school bully and subsequently is drawn to the city of Manzhouli, where an elephant is said to sit still all day. Along the way, the young man meets another classmate, an older neighbor, and the bully’s older brother.
Premiering nearly a year ago at the Berlin International Film Festival, the film runs nearly 4 hours in total, and tells a story across one day, linking the stories of various characters in one town. The focus is on bullying and the way people affect each other.
Starring Yuchang Peng, Yu Zhang, Uvin Wang, and Congxi Li, based on a story with the same title from his 2017 novel Huge Crack, An Elephant Sitting Still is a modern take on the classic Greek myth of Jason and the Argonauts.
Check out the US trailer for An Elephant Sitting Still below:
Both written and directed by Chinese filmmaker Hu Bo, this is his feature directorial debut after a few short films and novels. Hu Bo committed suicide soon after finishing his film in October of 2017. He was only 29.
Constructed with long takes, An Elephant Sitting Still is filled with silences that are punctuated with sudden outbursts of both physical and verbal violence. This will be a hard sell for some, but for others, the film’s narrative complexities flow seamlessly when you give yourself over to its extremely tasking running time. An Elephant Sitting Still is destined to become a landmark of new Chinese cinema. It’s just unfortunate that it will also be one tainted by the tragedy of its creator.
You can check out the official poster for the film as well:
Here is the official synopsis for An Elephant Sitting Still:
Under the gloomy sky of a small town in northern China, different protagonists’ lives are intertwined in this furious tale of nihilistic rage. While protecting his friend from a dangerous school bully, 16-year-old WEI Bu pushes the tormentor down a staircase. WEI escapes the scene and later learns that the bully is hospitalized and gravely injured. WEI’s neighbor, the 60-year-old WANG Jin, is estranged from his family and, with nothing to lose, decides to join him. Later the pair is joined by HUANG Ling, WEI’s classmate. She is bedeviled by a destructive affair with a married school official. Together, this unlikely and desperate trio, decide their only hope is to flee as the bully’s gangster brother, enraged parents, and vindictive school authorities all go on a cold-blooded hunt for WEI across town. As WEI threads his way through the urban wilderness, he begins to come to terms with his own lost life. In the end, he boards a long-distance bus with HUANG and WANG toward a city in Manchuria, where it is a rumored that a circus elephant is said to be sitting still, seeming oblivious to pain and tribulations of the world at large.
An Elephant Sitting Still opens on March 8 at NYC’s the Film Society of Lincoln Center and will expand in the weeks to follow.
Sources: FilmStim, FSLC