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Film Screening: An Elephant Sitting Still

May 1, 2018 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm

The final event of the spring semester for the Emergent Visions film series will be hosted at the Brattle Theatre in Harvard Square. The event is free and open to the public.


An Elephant Sitting Still (大象席地而坐), 2018, HD, Mandarin with English subtitles, 230 min.

Under the gloomy sky of a small town in northern China, different protagonists’ lives are intertwined in this lugubrious tale of nihilistic rage. To protect his friend, 16-year-old Wei Bu pushes the school bully down a staircase and escapes the scene after the bully becomes hospitalized with his life hanging by a thread. Wei’s neighbor, the 60-year-old Wang Jin, is estranged from his family and decides to join him. Huang Ling, Wei’s classmate, is bedeviled by an affair with a school official. Together, the desperate three decide to flee as the wounded bully’s hooligan brother, the school authorities, and the parents all go on a cold-blooded hunt for Wei across town. As Wei treads through the wilderness, he finally confronts his own reality. He later boards a long-distance bus with Huang and Wang toward Manchuria, where a circus elephant is said to be sitting still.


“He thought that in the beauty of the world were hid a secret. He thought that the world’s heartbeat at some terrible cost and that the world’s pain and its beauty moved in a relationship of diverging equity and that in this headlong deficit the blood of multitudes might ultimately be exacted for the vision of a single flower.” This quote from Cormac McCarthy is also the subject of this film. In our age, it’s increasingly hard for us to have faith even in the tiniest of things, and the frustration from which becomes the hallmark of today’s society. The film builds up personal myths in between daily routines. In the end, everyone loses what he or she values the most.

Official Selection of the 2018 Berlin International Film Festival, and the New Directors/New Films 2018 presented by the Film Society of Lincoln Center and MoMA.


HU Bo (Writer and Director), born in 1988 in China, graduated from the Beijing Film Academy in 2014 with a B.F.A. in directing. His short film Distant Father (2014) won Best Director at Golden Koala Chinese Film Festival, and Night Runner (2014) was selected by the Taipei Golden Horse Film Academy. His debut feature An Elephant Sitting Still, which was then still in progress, was selected by the FIRST

International Film Festival Financing Forum in 2016. In the following year, Hu Bo participated in FIRST Training Camp under the supervision of Béla Tarr, where he completed the short film Man in the Well. He has also written two novels Huge Crack and Bullfrog, both published in 2017. Hu Bo took his own life soon after finishing An Elephant Sitting Still.

This event is sponsored by the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies at Harvard University. Emergent Visions is a screening and discussion series that showcases new and innovative works of digital cinema from China.




May 1, 2018
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Event Categories:


Brattle Theater
40 Brattle St
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States
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Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies

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