For his first feature since 1993's acclaimed The Blue Kite, director Tian Zhuangzhuang chose to remake a classic 1949 Chinese film, Springtime in a Small Town. The film takes place in 1946. Yu Wen (Hu Jingfan) lives on a country estate with her sickly husband, Dai Li-yan (Wu Jun), and his rambunctious teenage sister, Dai Xiu (Lu Sisi). They are waited on by the family's longtime servant, Lao Huang (Ye Xiaokeng). Yu Wen cares for her husband and she's kind to him, but she doesn't seem to love him. Frustrated with his inability to give her a child due to his constant illness, she sleeps in a separate room. For his part, Li-yan feels guilt and shame over his inability to properly care for his wife. Their lives are disrupted by the arrival of Li-yan's childhood friend, Zhang Zhi-chen (Xin Bajqing), a well-traveled doctor. Li-yan soon learns that his old friend was once his wife's neighbor, but he doesn't know that they were also in love, and had at one time planned to marry. Tensions swirl about the household as Yu Wen and Zhi-chen try to reconcile their lingering feelings for each other with their responsibility to Li-yan. Springtime in a Small Town won the San Marco Prize at the 2002 Venice Film Festival, and was selected for the 2002 New York Film Festival.
Interview with director Tian from the Leonard Lopate Show, WNYC Radio