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60 min. Mandarin.

Li works nights and sleeps during the day. When he gets home, his roommate is just waking up. They have set up an improvised place to stay in a derelict building without windows in a Beijing expanding in all directions.
Independent Chinese cinema often depicts gigantic skylines, shot from the perspective of people for whom they remain inaccessible and far away. It can hardly be said that Li has made it to such places. He moves through urban life and is still on the margins. The cinematography mainly consists of long shots and captures the inhospitality of the settings. Even if there are people streaming along the streets and though the squares, even if tofu and other meals are sold at the market, the precisely choreographed visual tableaus seem oddly devoid of life. Li works as a night watchman in one of the modern buildings; sometimes he has to change light bulbs. We get an impression of the different tasks and countless activities in the background that are necessary to keep the daily routines of urban life running. We share Li’s pleasure at having bought a new shirt, but when he wears it for the first time, it’s clear that he is still far from finding the rhythm of the megacity. (Anke Leweke)

Ivan Marković was born in Belgrade, Yugoslavia (now Republic of Serbia) in 1989. In 2012, he completed his studies in cinematography at the Faculty of Dramatic Arts of the University of Arts in Belgrade. He is currently completing his master’s degree in Art and Media at the Universität der Künste Berlin. In 2015, he participated in the Berlinale Talent Campus. Marković works as a cinematographer and filmmaker in Belgrade and Berlin. Chun nuan hua kai is his first feature-length film

Wu Linfeng was born in Hunan, China in 1989. Between 2009 and 2013, he studied film at the Lasalle College of the Arts in Singapore. In 2013, he moved to Beijing and founded his own film production company. Chun nuan hua kai is his first feature-length film

The system of migrant workers

CHUN NUAN HUA KAI follows the unvarying daily rhythm in the life of Li, a migrant worker in Beijing, and simultaneously offers a portrait of his condition, between longing and possibility. Li lives in an underground room that he shares with another young man out of financial necessity. They both have a similar background, yet cope with their circumstances in different ways. Unlike his younger roommate, Li, the protagonist of CHUN NUAN HUA KAI, accepts his subordinate role in society, but his desire to be someone else keeps growing. Like millions of other Chinese migrant workers who move from rural areas to Chinese cities in the hope of a better future, Li finds himself trapped in a daily working routine with no prospect of change. For him, the rapidly growing city remains an unexplored terrain of possibilities that seem impossible to attain.
The migrant workers fully adapt to the conditions imposed on them, they surrender themselves to them, are prepared to sacrifice their comfort, privacy and personal life in order to save money for a better future. As the surface of the city changes, becoming more modern and more homogenous, the prospect of a desirable life for some of its inhabitants moves further and further beyond reach. Nonetheless, their ambition persists and remains unquestioned.
The film combines fiction and documentary elements, and was shot in real locations. The characters are played by non-professional actors who come from the migrant workers’ milieu. Through the focus on the main protagonists, CHUN NUAN HUA KAI depicts the relationship between the individual, the group and architecture within a rapidly changing urban landscape. (Ivan Marković, Wu Linfeng)

The title

The film borrows its title from the poem ‘Facing the Sea, with Spring Blossom’, written by the Chinese poet Hai Zi on 25 January 1989, two months before his suicide.

From tomorrow on, I will be a happy person
Feed a horse, split logs, travel the world
From tomorrow on, I will care for crops and vegetables
I have a house; it faces the sea, and flowers bloom in spring warmth
From tomorrow on, I will contact every relative
To tell them about my happiness
As that lightning bolt of happiness told me
I will tell each and every person
Give every river and every mountain a warm-hearted name
As for strangers, I wish you happiness too
I wish you a glittering future
I wish you a lover who becomes a spouse
I wish that you obtain happiness in this world
I wish only to face the sea, where flowers bloom in spring warmth

Urban-rural apartheid

The dramatic growth of the world population, especially in urban areas, and the prevailing socio-economic circumstances, lead people to develop different strategies of survival. Even if the situation in the Chinese megacities seems extreme, they nevertheless represent a potential future way of life that could also become a reality in other parts of the world. The film portrays the life of one of the hundreds of millions of Chinese migrant workers who have left their provincial homes for big cities, hoping to obtain financial security for themselves and their families. As low-income labourers, the migrant workers give up their lives to various kinds of work, seeking alternative housing solutions in order to maximise their savings.
Underground apartments used to be relatively common housing solutions for the so-called lower classes in China’s biggest, most expensive cities. Originally built as cellars or air-raid shelters, these spaces were converted to house as large a number of people as possible. Whereas any kind of affordable housing is normally hours away from the city, the underground apartments are usually located within the wider city centre, where the monthly rent for normal apartments is at least ten times higher than for those underground. In most cases, the rooms are only big enough to fit one bed, and these are often shared by two people. Such living conditions create a special type of community: the tenants have to care for the space, respect each other’s privacy, and at the same time keep their dwelling as hidden from the outside world as possible.

The new face of Beijing
The possibilities and prospects for migrant workers are further hindered by the system of household registration called ‘hukou’. Hukou prevents people who have moved from rural areas to register in large cities, delays the payment of social benefits to migrant workers, and undermines their ability to find stable employment, leaving them practically no way out of the cheap labour force. This system of urban-rural apartheid turns the migrant workers into the new proletariat of China’s urban centres, a proletariat that is no longer supported and whose fundamental rights are neglected.
In 2017, a bill was passed that officially bans underground apartments and similar dwellings. As part of the ‘New Face of Beijing’ campaign, the resulting evictions by the police were also accompanied by the closing down and clearing of street food vendors, small shops and restaurants, motorcycle taxis – in short: any kind of independent spaces and activities. While the semi-legal employment of migrant workers is tolerated because it strengthens the economies of large cities, their ragged presence and run-down living areas are considered stains on the new, homogenous and business-oriented image that the city wants to convey of itself. (Ivan Marković, Wu Linfeng)

Production Ivan Marković, Wu Linfeng, Fang Li. Production companies Ivan Marković (Berlin, Germany), Wu Linfeng (Beijing, People's Republic of China), Fang Li (Beijing, People's Republic of China). Directed by Ivan Marković, Wu Linfeng. Screenplay Ivan Marković, Tanja Šljivar, Wu Linfeng. Cinematography Ivan Marković. Editing Ivan Marković, Wu Linfeng, Gang Hengju. Sound design Shen Sum-Sum. Sound Zeng Chaopeng. Production design Gui Zhou. Costumes Gui Zhou. With Li Chuan (Li), Wei Ruguang (Ma), A Long (Mr. Wang), Gu Yueqing (Girl), Wang Luying (Agency).

World sales Ivan Marković
Premiere February 13, 2019, Forum


Ivan Marković: 2009: Sve, sigurno / Everything Is Safe (4 min.). 2014: Night Walks (multi-channel video). 2016: Bai niao / White Bird (29 min., co-directed by Wu Linfeng, Berlinale Shorts 2016). 2017: If and of Any (19 min., 2-Channel-Video, co-directed by Valentina Knežević). 2018: Centar (48 min.). 2019: Chun nuan hua kai / From Tomorrow on, I Will.

Wu Linfeng: 2012: Shuang xi / Double Happiness (20 min.). 2013: Gang Suo / Tightrope (30 min.). 2015: Bai niao / White Bird (29 min., co-directed by Ivan Marković, Berlinale Shorts 2016). 2019: Chun nuan hua kai / From Tomorrow on, I Will.

Photo: © Ivan Marković, Wu Linfeng

Funded by:

  • Logo Minister of State for Culture and the Media
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