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Film Movement continues to bring to our attention treasures of cinematic art that we might not otherwise see. IL SONO LI (SHUN LI AND THE POET) is one of those rare gems of a movie that in a very gentle, quiet, simple fashion tells a story that in some way connects us all. Written and directed by Andrea Segre it gives notice of a major new light in cinema and we can only hope the success of this film will encourage him to create more in this genre.
Shun Li (Zhao Tao) works in a textile factory in the outskirts of Rome to enable her to get her papers that allow her eight-year-old son to come to Italy. She is part of the large Chinese organization that makes money off cheap labor in another country to keep the immigrants in a near slave like contract. She is suddenly transferred to Chioggia, a small city-island in the Veneto lagoon, to work as a bartender in a café pub. She rooms with another girl in similar circumstances. Bepi (Rade Serbedzija), an older Yugoslavian fisherman, nicknamed the Poet by his friends, has been a regular at that little pub for years: he left Yugoslavia at the time of the overthrow of Tito. Shun Li and Bepi are two lonely souls far away from homeland. Their encounter is a quiet almost poetic escape from solitude, a silent dialogue between cultures that are different, yet not more distant. They become close friends, but their friendship upsets both the Chinese and local communities, who interfere with this new voyage, and after confrontations and threats and fears, Shun Li returns to the factories until something beautiful happens and she returns to share this with her friend - a moment that is as touching in its surprise and tenderness as any on film.
The supporting cast is strong - both Chinese and Italian - and the cinematography by Luca Bigazzi is breathtakingly beautiful. The quiet, unintrusive but salient musical score is by François Couturier. This film is a soulful, eloquent exploration into the human heart made more poignant because of the coming together of tow immigrants who must now share a foreign language. In Italian and Mandarin with English subtitles. Highly Recommended.
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