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HAF: China’s Huo Meng Unpacks Multi-Generational Tale in Epic ‘The Wind Is Unstoppable’

China’s unprecedented economic and social transformation in the latter part of the 20th century has been picked over in dozens of movies by filmmakers ranging from Jia Zhangke and Zhang Yimou to Wang Xiaoshuai. But with more than one billion people affected by China’s transformation, there is no shortage of personal stories and no end of ways to tell the tale.

Sophomore filmmaker Huo Meng trains his eye on one of those stories in his second film, “The Wind Is Unstoppable,” which he is just finishing off.

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Huo burst onto the indie scene in 2018 with his debut feature, “Crossing the Border — Zhaoguan,” which travelled to the Pingyao and Berlin festivals and the Golden Rooster Awards. He will present ”The Wind Is Unstoppable” as a work-in-progress at the Hong Kong — Asia Film Financing Forum.

China’s cycle of rural upheaval, new order, re-location and tough regulation, such as the one-child policy, is told through the eyes of a 10-year-old child in the film. Set in 1991, the story spans four generations of characters as their rural lives are shaped, not only by weather and the seasons, but also the new social order.

“Over thousands of years, Chinese people have cultivated a deep sense of endurance and forged strong familial bonds in response to historical changes and survival pressures. Through ‘The Wind Is Unstoppable,’ we aim to depict the pervasive resilience rooted in ordinary Chinese rural families, and to show how they navigate difficulties in their daily lives amidst relentless social transformations. When the strong winds come, rural Chinese people understand, deeply, that they cannot stop the gale. Instead, to survive, they cling to one another,” said Huo in a statement.

“I’ve been involved in many young talents and pitching forums in recent years. ‘The Wind Is Unstoppable’ may be the best script I’ve ever read. It is so sincere and broad. Unlike other projects that focus on a single person or a particular relationship, ‘Wind’ wants to portray an entire clan, or even all of Chinese rural civilization,” said producer Zhang Fan (aka Tiffany Zhang).

“We worked with 15 non-professional main actors of all ages. Their names are not known publicly, but they provided great, never-seen-before performances drawn from their real-life experiences. While the story is hyper-local, in that it depicts a Chinese family living through four seasons, the sincerity and bonding emotions among family members, their love, hate, and endurance, will touch the hearts of a much wider, global audience. It has epic potential,” said Zhang.

Shot in Henan Province, and the local dialect, the production was a long, drawn-out process that stopped and restarted, with chunks of editing filling in the down time. The last section of filming was completed in the chill of February and the final version of the $1.45 million production is expected to be locked by April.

Zhang has taken the in-development and work-in-progress versions of the film to multiple project markets, including the recent Festival of Young Cinema in Macau. She recently completed piecing together the financing and will use the HAF to connect with sales agents, festivals and potential distributors.

“Huo’s first film attracted attention from the entire Chinese film industry, despite being made on a budget of only $60,000. ‘Wind’ is a big step up for him, in budget and in terms of technical proficiency,” said Zhang.

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