By Ruijun LI


Drama - Completed 2012

Old Ma, who believes that white cranes will carry dead bodies to heaven, seeks his little grandchildren’s help when the government implements the practice of cremation.

& Awards

Toronto - TIFF 2012
Contemporary World Cinema
    • Year of production
    • 2012
    • Genres
    • Drama
    • Countries
    • CHINA
    • Languages
    • Budget
    • 1 - 3 M$
    • Duration
    • 99 mn
    • Director(s)
    • Ruijun LI
    • Producer(s)
    • Xiaoping SHEN, Hong GAO (Heaven Pictures), Na YANG (Heaven Pictures)
    • Synopsis
    • 73 year old Lao Ma and Lao Cao were once famous carpenters in the village, they would partner with elders from the neighboring villages to make coffins. Lao Ma was not only proficient in carpentry, but could paint as well. Lao Ma would meticulously paint each coffin he made.
      Today, they are old. Their bodies are no longer as agile as they had once been. Today, the government has implemented the practice of cremation. Never again will the elderly call on Lao Ma and Lao Cao to make coffins. Before Lao Cao passed, he asked Lao Ma to help him make a coffin for him to be buried in. The two worked together to make the coffin with Lao Ma taking out his paintbrush, long covered in dust, and his dried up color palette. Lao Ma painstakingly painted a white crane on the front of Lao Cao’s coffin.
      The older residents of the village would gather everyday near the haystack at the entrance of the village, playing cards, talking, sunning and napping. Other than eating and sleeping, the village elders spent much the remainder of their time by this haystack.
      When the Mid-Autumn drew near, Lao ma’s daughter invited him to celebrate the holiday with her. After Lao Ma returned to the village, Lao Cao was not to be seen amongst the elderly gathered by the haystack. Someone beside him whispered that Lao Cao had passed away and been secretly been in the cornfields on the shore opposite shore of Cao Zi Lake.
      Lao Ma claimed to have seen a white crane in Cao Zi Lake, but none of his children believed he was telling the truth. As a result, Lao Ma became the brunt of many jokes in the village for quite some time. Since then, Lao Ma would wait by the lake everyday for the white crane. Lao Ma’s grandson would ask him why he waited for the white crane to which Lao Ma would say, “I worked so hard to raise your father, uncle and aunt, and they want to turn me into a pile of ash, I want to have the white crane carry me to heaven.” Lao Ma’s grandchildren helped him to realize his wish…
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