Hot Docs 2017: Still Tomorrow

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Jian Fan’s Still Tomorrow considers its fascinating subject in all its facets.  The film follows a year in the life of Yu Xuihua, a middle age woman with cerebral palsy who has worked on her parent’s farm for her whole life.  Her arranged marriage of 20 years is one of convenience, and her life is a struggle, both physically and mentally.  To parse her world, Yu explores her passion:  writing poetry.

She types away at her laptop on a rickety table as chickens scurry in the background, and it gives her life meaning.  She worked in obscurity, posting her work to a poetry blog.  Until her poem Crossing Half of China to Sleep with You is shared over a million times on Chinese social media.

Now a popular artist, Yu has a collection of poems published, attends readings of her work, and is an absolute sensation.  Yet, Still Tomorrow is not a simple overnight success story with a saccharine “Happily Ever After” ending.  Through her success, Yu starts to yearn for more from her everyday life.  She often clashes with the wishes of her family, and worries that her fame will visit unwanted attention on her new decisions.

Stylistically, Fan allows us to consider Yu’s poetry ourselves by placing it on the screen on top of some stunning cinematography, and also has Yu recite passages herself.  The poetry is the inciting event of the story and the kernel of Yu’s life, but everything surrounding it is equally fascinating.

Still Tomorrow showcases the discovery of a generational artist, but it is also a poignant family drama, an exploration of disability, and a rousing treatise on independence.

Screens
Saturday, April 29, 4:00 PM, Scotiabank
Sunday, April 30, 10:30 AM, Scotiabank
Sunday, May 7, 1:45 PM, Scotiabank