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Oxhide (2005)
"Niu pi" (original title)

6.9
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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 108 users  
Reviews: 1 user | 5 critic

Daily life in an impossibly cramped Beijing apartment takes on epic proportions in this, intimate portrait, with unprecedented access, of a working-class Chinese family. Boldly transforming... See full summary »

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Title: Oxhide (2005)

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Cast

Credited cast:
Huifen Jia ...
Mother
Jiayin Liu ...
Daughter
Zaiping Liu ...
Father
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Daily life in an impossibly cramped Beijing apartment takes on epic proportions in this, intimate portrait, with unprecedented access, of a working-class Chinese family. Boldly transforming documentary into fiction, Liu Jiayin cast her parents and herself as fictionalized versions of themselves. Her father, Liu Zaiping, sells leather bags but is slowly going bankrupt. He argues with his wife, Jia Huifen, and his daughter over methods to boost business in the shop. A cloud of anxiety follows them into sleepless nights shared in the same bed. But through the thousand daily travails of city life, a genuine and deeply moving picture of Chinese familial solidarity emerges from the screen. With virtually no budget and boundless ingenuity, Liu Jiayin's eye-opening debut, shot when she was 23 years old, consists of twenty-three static, one-scene shots within her family's fifty square meter home. Liu keeps her small DV camera in claustrophobic closeness to her subjects, often showing only ... Written by dGenerate Films

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31 May 2006 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Cuero de buey  »

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Followed by Oxhide II (2009) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Minimalistic Film-making At It's Best
18 July 2006 | by (New Zealand) – See all my reviews

Liu Jiayin's debut "Niu Pi" aka "Oxhide" is an impressive exercise in minimum and low budget film-making. The young girl made this docu-drama completely on her own, writing, directing and starring in the film. Liu's real life parents and pet cat plays themselves in the film. Set in a tiny cramped apartment in Beijing. And the film is composed of 23 static interior shots. No, it's not a typo, it really only has 23 shots (the longest shot lasting nearly 20 minutes), and the camera never moves. Master filmmaker Tsai Ming-Liang being the clear influence here. Anyone familiar with Tsai's films would know that patience and an open-mind are vital to truly appreciate his films. The same applies to "Oxhide". I'm sorry to say, half the audience I saw this film with, did not have those things. The theatre became half full/empty before the half way point was even reached. What were they expecting? Did they not read the festival guide? It clearly states: "only 23 shots… 110 minutes…tiny apartment", doesn't take a genius to work out this is not "The Fast and The Furious". Anyway, oh boy, did they miss out.

The film is a rich blend of life and fiction about the importance of family bond, it's a moving social commentary on the economic hardship faced by the lower-class Beijing families to get through each day. It's also a film that has been executed in exquisite style, whether it's the use of awkward framing creating a sense of claustrophobia in the tiny apartment or the magical use of natural lighting. Not to mention the fantastic acting by these non-professionals and the hilarious dialogue (unfortunately some of the humour will be lost in translation for the non-Mandarin speakers). Definitely not everyone's cup of tea, but for those open to something completely differently, this is a must watch. I was lucky enough to see at the local film festival, and I can only hope that this unknown little gem will get a DVD release in the near future.


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