Old Men

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Lina Yang Tian-yi

Born in 1972 in Baishan, Jilin Province of China. Fond of art from childhood, she studied dance in Jilin Art Institute in her teens. In 1989 became a dancer and performer in the Jilin Song and Dance Troupe. During that time she traveled to Yamagata once to perform as a member of the Troupe. From 1992-1995 she studied in the Department of Acting, at the Art Academy of the People's Liberation Army (P.L.A) as an actress. In 1995 she joined the Modern Drama Troupe of the Chinese P.L.A. Active since 1997 as an independent documentary filmmaker. Old Men is her first film.
First-time filmmaker Yang spent over two years documenting her neighborhood's elderly, who gather on a street corner each day. The camera non obtrusively follows their body rhythms, observes their aged physiques, and listens to their chattering and complaints, throughout the four seasons in a dusty Beijing suburb. The old men bear the searing summer heat, hobble through the windy gusts of spring, and disappear when the city is silent under a blanket of snow.

Director's Statement
In 1996, I moved into Qing Ta district in Beijing. One day, as I was walking along, I saw some people. There was a certain beauty in their appearance. So I started to document them with my video camera. They were a group of retired old men. I referred to them as "Da ye," a respectful term of endearment in Mandarin. Every morning they came promptly out of their homes to gather by the roadside beside a big wall. Sitting under the sun, they chatted amongst themselves. At noon, they went home for lunch and then returned outside right afterwards. At about 5 p.m., they returned home to eat dinner and go to sleep. In the summer, they liked to gather in a different place, under the shadow of some trees. Year after year, they maintain this routine as if it was their job.
After more than two years I finished my taping. Now when I pass by the wall at Qing Ta, I see many faces that I don't recognize. The old men who had caught my attention that first time are now either bed-ridden or have moved away to live with their children's families. A few, who have remained, often call themselves "old" and "useless." They feel it is their time to go. I watch each leave the mortal world and trust that each walks the path to heaven.

From www.city.yamagata.yamagata.jp

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