Shun Li and the Poet


with Tao Zhao and Rade Serbedzija

(available on DVD)

A young Chinese woman (Tao Zhao), working in a clothing factory in Rome, is ordered by the mysterious Chinese gang who seem to control her, to go to a fishing port near Venice, where she is to work in a bar. We learn that eventually, when she has earned enough, her eight-year old son will join her in Italy, though she has no idea what she is earning or how long that will take.

A habitué of the bar is an old Jugoslavian fisherman (Rade Serbedzija), who has been living in the port for thirty years. A touching friendship (not an affair) develops between these two lonely people. There is no point in delineating the story. The whole film rests on the subtle depiction of this relationship, which depends not on what is regarded as “drama” but on the portraits by the leading actors. This is not a fast-paced film with hectic cutting, but invites one to experience and above all to feel what the principal characters are themselves experiencing. Highly recommended.

Tilo Ulbricht