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The Independent Critic

Jianchun Hao, Deyang Hou, Chengliang Li, and Xianyuan Zhu
Chuyao He
Abigail He, Chuyao He
15 Mins.


 "Before Christmas" an Impressive Narrative Short From China 
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Chuyao He's moving 15-minute short film Before Christmas tells the story of a rural Chinese family that moves to the big city to take jobs in a workshop that makes Christmas decorations for export. The family is comprised of mother (Jianchun Hao), father (Xianyuan Zhu), and 18-year-old Ziao (Deyang Hou), the latter who dreams of making it big in music but whose life seems destined to be consumed by life in a city where people are numbers and productivity is all that matters. 

The film is co-written by Chuyao He and Abigail He and has already experienced quite a bit of success on the film festival circuit including its recent U.K. premiere at the Edinburgh Short Film Festival. 

Before Christmas was inspired by the photograph "Christmas Factory" by Chinese photojournalist Chen Ronghui, a photo that poignantly reveals the work of people in Christmas decoration factories in the small town of Yiwu, China where 80% of all Christmas decorations are actually made.

I bet you didn't know that, did you?

While the photograph brought attention to the plight of China's lower working class, ultimately little has been done. The tragedy that feels inevitable for the family in Before Christmas is powerfully brought to life in simple, meaningful ways by He. 

With over 20 film festivals under its belt, Before Christmas is certainly having a global impact and spreading the word around the globe. Thanks to terrific performances by the ensemble cast, this 15-minute narrative short is a memorable effort that will likely have you rushing to look up more information about Yiwu, the "Christmas Factory" and the price that gets paid so that you can decorate your home.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic