In the Chinese farming village of Wenlou, nearly sixty percent of the population is infected with HIV. This is the high price they now pay for selling blood, which was a way that the inhabitants of the Chinese countryside could eake out a paltry living in the 1990s. In this film, Shengyi Ma’s family is followed for a year, from the summer of 2001, during a period in which AIDS is already manifest in mother Leimei.
Shengyi cares for his wife and their three children—their youngest daughter and baby son are also seropositive. He’s desperately trying to make ends meet, supported by a ludicrously pitiful allowance from the government. The film is divided into seasons, the fierceness of which parallel the circumstances of the family’s life. When the sulky autumn and an endless winter are finally over, spring brings new hope.
Filmmaker Weijun Chen intermixes scenes of austere daily life with ever-saddening monologues by Shengyi Ma, and moving interviews with the children.