From newcomer Cao Jinling comes the stunningly beautiful and hauntingly resonant ANIMA. A family drama, survival story and environmental siren call, the film captures a country in transition and the loss of an indigenous way of life in the face of encroaching modernity.
1980s Inner Mongolia. Tutu and his little brother Linzi belong to the Lonki tribe, a forest people that live off the land and herd reindeer. One day while out in the forest Linzi falls into a bear den, and instinctively young Tutu shoots the bear to save his brother, an unthinkable act for the Lonki. Even after performing a traditional sky burial ritual for the sacred bear, the death spells a bad omen for the future.
Years later, the now adult Tutu and Linzi have been forced to the edge of the forest, eking out a living as lumberjacks clearing the surrounding woods. While Tutu has no qualms with this way of life, Linzi longs for life in the forest, and abhors being forced to be party to cutting the trees. When they both fall for the same woman an even deeper wedge is driven between the brothers. Tutu leaves in search of a different life, and Linzi heads deep into the forest. Yet both brothers will learn that to live in this changing world, sacrifices will be made.
Featuring gorgeous landscapes and the exquisite cinematography of Mark Lee Ping Bing (IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE, ASSASSIN) ANIMA is both immersive and captivating. An unbelievable debut from director and writer Cao Jinling.
HIFF is proud to nominate this film for the Kau Ka Hōkū Award.