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Knife in the Clear Water

Wang Xuebo
Qingshui li de daozi
China 2016 / 92’
A Yangtze Landscape Kuro

A place the modern world has forgotten. On the periphery of the mountainous province of Ningxia, the few inhabitants who remain share a primeval bond with the earth. They are its hostages, and although it's dry and infertile, it enables Muslims from the Hui people to survive. Xuebo Wang says farewell to their world of customs doomed to extinction in his debut film, which took six years to make. The director focuses on Ma Zishan, a farmer mourning the death of his wife. Forty days after her death, the widower has to prepare a farewell ceremony. But he doesn't know how to receive guests. He has nothing, lives like a hermit and his only companion is an old bull. In keeping with tradition, it's the bull Zishan should sacrifice. Knife in the Clear Water is a contemplative film: elegiac and shot in cool, subdued colors, flowing in accordance with the rhythm of life in the wilderness, with captivating details and picturesque cinematography. This isn't an ethnographic postcard. The director creates a character of flesh and blood, who, in his advanced age, can afford a modest rebellion in defiance of the spirits of the past and the future.

Mariusz Mikliński


Pusan IFF 2016 - New Currents Award

Wang Xuebo

Born in 1984, Xuebo Wang is a Chinese director. As a producer, he collaborated with Tibetan artist Pema Tseden to make the drama Tharlo, an award winner at numerous film festivals. In 2010, he began working on his own feature debut. Knife in Clear Water premiered at the Pusan International Film Festival, where it won an award in the New Currents section.

Selected filmography

2016 Nóż w przejrzystej wodzie / Qingshui li de daozi / Knife in the Clear Water

Cast & Crew

director Wang Xuebo
screenplay Shi Shuqing, Wang Xuebo, Ma Jinlian, Mayue
cinematography Wang Weihua
editing Liao Qingsong, Guo Xiaodong, Wang Xuebo
cast Yang Shengcang, Yang Shengcang, Zhou Jinhua, Yang, Yang Xue
producer Wang Xuebo, Wang Zijian, Chen Cheng, Chen Jian
production Blackfin (Beijing) Culture & Media
language Mandarin
colouration colour