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Black Blood
a film by
Miaoyan Zhang

2010 - China/France
123 min, HDCAM 5.1 Scope 2.35
Color and b&w, Mandarin with English subtitles

Awards / festivals
Prix Netpac au Rotterdam IFF (Meilleur film asiatique) 2011
Netpac Price, Rotterdam IFF 2011
Selection in Las Palmas, Jeonju, Cannes ACID, Saint Petersbourg.

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As the dark smoke of the factory hits Xiaolin's throat, he knows he is getting close. Up ahead he sees the rattling old truck, at the edge of the crumbling Great Wall and the queue of vilagers, eager to sell their blood. Xiaolin decides to return to sell his blood in order to pay for his daughter's tuition. And soon his wife joins him. They decide to start a blood collecting business called Ali-Baba. They start to make considerable profits and their once empty courtyard soon becomes the bustling home to a large herd of sheep. Although their lives appear to be going well, it is a matter of time before disaster strikes. They both fall victim to an incurable disease. Xiaolin and his wife Xiaojuan are only two of many thousands that are infected with HIV each year, selling their blood. As the couple fight for their lives, Xiaolin goes from door to door to try and get their daughter Ying adopted. Finally, Xiaojuan passes away, leaving Xiaolin with a deserted blood collecting station and a hingry daughter. But life still goes on.

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Director's Statement
In 1990, I travelled to northwestern China. It was my first time seing the Northern side of the great wall. At noon, when the sun was at it's highest, I walked towards the Horizon. It made me feel like I was on a different planet.
Twenty years later, I travelled to the same area again, shooting my movie in a small village near the nuclear testing field. There wasn't a single difference compared with my previous visit. People still lived there but the population was decreased dramatically, and the Great Wall had been eroded by the sand storms. The only difference was that there was barely any water left. The people where becoming desperate, starting to sell their blood in order to survive. Water is more precious than blood there. Wells where already being drilled at depths of more than 60 meters. Many abandoned villages lay scattered across the valley.
While I was shooting I could only hear two sounds: the savage wind and the buzzing of flies. A third sound was always in my mind: the broadcast of the morning news. The morning news can be heard anywhere in China except in this area. Life there is boring and numb.
I use a sharp sound to break the silence: the use of the toilet is a symbol of the strong desire of local villagers to pursuit a modern life. There is a circle of life, and the selling of blood is continuing. Black Blood merely recorded a small piece of one family's story north of the Great Wall. The bright blue sky against the blinding orange earth made me see nothing but black and white. Only the tumbling black smoke beyond the horizon and a magical blur of different colors made the surroundings look like a wonderland. This subtle, yet truthful image is the core of my movie. Reality provided all the necessary contents; all I did was record them.