Lifei, decides to set up a mushroom farm in the desert between Dubai and Abu Dhabi with her best friend. It's been hard earned cash for these 2 Chinese girls in working in Dubai, now they ...
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Lifei, decides to set up a mushroom farm in the desert between Dubai and Abu Dhabi with her best friend. It's been hard earned cash for these 2 Chinese girls in working in Dubai, now they are ready to go clean, become business women. Life quickly gets tough for the girls, and whereas her best friend is quick to return to her former life, Lifei is resolute. She has to manage a team of workers from Bangladesh, find investors and keep growing and delivering mushrooms throughout Dubai. Just as she gets a grip on the matter, and gains some control over her life, personal tragedy pushes her to return to China. The only problem is she is unable to leave until she pays back the mounting debt she has got herself into.Written by
Compelling, original story line. Shows present Dubai and its mix of cultures, races and nationalities. No clichés about business women not fitting in a male dominated world
I saw this film as part of the Bright Future section of the Rotterdam film festival 2013 (IFFR). The festival website steered me in the wrong direction initially, by talking about a "male dominated world" wherein a woman is handicapped while trying to run a business. It may be an existing issue in those parts of the world, but that is not the case in this film and I saw nothing that looked like discrimination of females. She seemed reasonably accepted as a business woman, and her male workers addressed her respectfully. Similarly, the candidate investors she talked with, didn't treat her in a demeaning way nor did they show doubts about her capabilities. I'm glad to it, having seen lots of other films about this topic without offering any viable solution. This film is about something else.
The second handicap mentioned by the festival website, was that she was a foreigner and as such remaining an outsider for the foreseeable future. This did not seem an issue either, perfectly understandable because Dubai is known as a melting pot of cultures, races and nationalities. Though not expressly intended as the main theme of this film, the mix of cultures passing by is in itself remarkable. It is certainly an important element which makes this film worthwhile. We closely observe Dubai as it is nowadays, and what is going on there. And our main character perfectly knows her way around, apparently no outsider.
Compelling story line, keeping us pulled in all the time. That the two women considerably differ in coping behavior when things are not going as planned, is a crucial part of the proceedings. Though interesting as a driver for the plot, I still do not grasp the importance of an ailing grandma, to such an extent that she urgently wants to go home and leave the mushroom farm she has built up by herself. We know that family ties are stronger in China than in our world. But still, her drastic attempts to tear down her business just when it starts blossoming, is a bit beyond my limits of believability. Nevertheless, her inclination as such is important for the story. As the synopsis on the IMDb website correctly points out, we see that she gradually has to let go of her home-going attempts, experiencing the hard way that she cannot leave before having paid back all the debts accrued when building up the mushroom business.
In the final Q&A with the film maker, we learned a few things not apparent while watching the movie. Firstly, the background how this scenario came about, was that a real mushroom farm popped up while traveling. Given that, the rest of the story developed itself when thinking about it some more. As a side note, we heard that the farm in question is in a bad state nowadays, due to a neighboring competitor. Secondly, the location of the farm far away from the city where they lived, hence requiring time wasting car rides to and from, was something not really clear to me, but I may have missed some clues. It showcased her persistent drive to build up her business against all odds.
I must admit I needed some time to get used to the seemingly endless chain of relatively short scenes. On the other hand, I exaggerate when saying that it felt like moving/speaking stills, each on its turn followed by another short scene in a different setting. I must emphasize that it is not a bad approach to tell the story, only that one needs time to pick up the rhythm, and to extract the essence of what each of the scenes is saying actually. For example, it is a good thing we are not bothered with the considerable time needed to travel from their apartment in the city to the mushroom farm, and vice versa. We know enough when seeing them a short while in the car, only taking extra time if there is some important business ahead, brought across for instance by making it a topic of conversation underway or an incoming phone call.
All in all, this film kept me awake throughout, particularly after I forget about the issues mentioned on the festival website as being important, but proved not so relevant in reality: no trace of sex discrimination and no culture clash. The interaction between the two business women was far more important, particularly their different coping behavior. We do not get to know much of their respective backgrounds. I think, after all, it was not really essential to enlighten us about their history. We were just pulled in and taken by the hand along their current lives. For the audience award the film received an average score of 3.466 (out of 5) based on 474 votes.
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