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The Park (Gong Yuan)
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Directed by Yin Lichuan

In recent years, the Chinese park has become a venue where concerned parents convene to discuss potential partnerships for their children. Set in a Kunming park, first-time director Yin Lichuan focuses her story on this matchmaking ritual, with a delicate story of a father-daughter relationship.

June is a journalist approaching her 30th birthday who lives with her boyfriend Doudou, a young musician who doesn't have a stable job. When her father comes to visit her from her hometown, June feels as if her personal life has been intruded upon.

Her father, not satisfied with her younger boyfriend, takes it upon himself to find her a new boyfriend. And so he heads to the park every day to meet like-minded elderly people, who have similar concerns for their children.

Rather than protest, June finds it easier to go along with her father and as a result meets many strange men, merely fueling the unspoken conflict between father and daughter that takes place every day.

The movie is reminiscent of Ang Lee's early films, such as Pushing Hands or Eat, Drink, Man, Woman, which both explore Chinese family relationships and feature imposing father figures.

Wang Deshun turns in a superb performance as June's worried, lonely, caring and sometimes helpless father, effortlessly expressing the complex and contradicting emotions of his character.

Yin's previous experience as a poet and a writer has obviously influenced her directorial style, resulting in a lyrical, softly spoken film, which involves slow camera and character movements. This style also marries well with the beauty of Yunnan and Kunming's parks. 

(That's Beijing by Alice Wang August 12, 2007)

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