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Being Mortal

1h 37m Drama 2020

Language:Mandarin, with English subtitles


UK Premiere

Synopsis Xia Tian relocates to her hometown to take care of her father, who has suffered from Alzheimer‘s for over ten years. She thought it would help her parents. However, as the disease gets worse, she has to face the pressure of life, and the only thing she can do is to wait.

Director’s Statement Based on the real stream-of-life, the film keeps the unpolished details of contemporary China. I juxtapose several events happened across time in the same space and use one long take to externalize the mental state of the characters. Our camera follows the actors and captures the fascinating vibe flowing from actors to actors and into the background. The production design presents a range of virtual effects of different times. The sound plays an important role in the narrative, expanding the space and different layers of emotions. The music is non-diegetic, emphasizes the emotion with a touch of spirituality and mystery. It supports the audience to distinguish the different ages within one single scene.

Curators’ Notes When Alzheimer’s strikes an ordinary Chinese family, not only the disease bereaves the patient of sweet memories, but it wounds everyone else. Seeing the deterioration aggravates daily, happiness becomes a total myth to women, who are too often the primary carer. Softly but steadily, a contemporary family story is told through the perspective of Xia Tian, the unmarried younger daughter who returns from afar out of filial piety; cerebrally yet distressingly, ruthless dementia dismantles the family inside out and consumes it to the last remain. Life is about budding but also dying. Being a mortal suggests the endurance of life’s decay even in utter devastation. A novella-based adaptation and a heartfelt survey inwards the susceptible family members. A debut feature film of the director Liu Ze that received much attention at the 4th Pingyao International Film Festival.

Festivals & Awards

The 3rd Hainan Island International Film Festival - China Vista

The 44th Sao Paulo International Festival - New Directors Competition

The 38th Paris International Film Festival


Ze Liu


Jingyong Sun





Bonus Content

Q&A with Director Ze Liu

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