The Beekeeper and his Son

About the Film

Synopsis

After drifting as a migrant worker in the city for a year, Maofu returns to his family bee farm in rural Northern China. Maofu brings along big ideas for marketing and honey sales. However, his father Lao Yu emphasizes a heart felt connection with the bees which comes from generations of traditional beekeeping.

Now in his declining years, Lao Yu witnesses the environmental degradation and pollution that has also depleted his bee colonies. He’s struggling with his own self-worth and values, and mixed emotions of whether his son should even stay in this traditional area of work and trade. In the end, he makes the ultimate sacrifice cutting down a family tree, to build the new bee boxes while securing a portion of it for his own coffin. The animals on the farm echo the emotional intensities of father and son, sometimes providing an unexpected comic relief.

Protagonists

The Son Maofu

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In his early twenties, Maofu is tall, handsome and sensitive. He doesn’t like talking about his feelings, but he likes sharing quotes from books that resonate with his life. As the youngest child of the family, Maofu tends to rely on his parents in making decisions for their family, but he doesn’t like that Laoyu is always giving orders. Maofu is increasingly aware of the need to support and care for his aging parents, but he feels disconnected from his family since his return. Meanwhile, he doesn’t see any future for himself as a migrant worker in the city without higher education. He looks out into the rain from his cave room without a sense of belonging to anywhere.

The Goose

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One of the two geese in particular likes walking into Maofu’s cave bedroom to listen to Maofu’s music, and accompany Maofu when he is alone. The goose adores both Laoyu and Maofu. He would follow the angry and sad Laoyu, though Laoyu tends to yell at him. But when Maofu is depressed after a fight with Laoyu, the goose would make a low croaking sound and stand quietly with Maofu. All the animals in Laoyu’s family are characters, including the bees, the pigs, the dogs, the cat and the chicken. They observe the reality of the family and navigate among the family members with their own «politics» and humour.

Director

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Diedie Weng grew up in Guangdong, Southern China and is currently living between Canada and Switzerland. She received her MFA in documentary production at the State University of New York at Buffalo. After a few short documentary projects, The Beekeeper And His Son is her first feature documentary project.

Filmography: 2016 The Beekeeper and his Son, Directed and shot, 85 Min.; 2012 Ming Day and Night, Directed and shot, 45 Min.; 2007 Mosuo Song Journey, Director, 37 Min.

Director's Note

«I sought to capture the personal ways in which their worlds and times met and crashed into each other.»

Technical Details

Resolution
HD
Format
DCP
Duration
85min
Aspect Ratio
16:9
Color
Yes
Year
2016
Original Language
Chinese
Subtitles
German, English
Country
Switzerland / Canada
ISAN
0000-0004-22CC-0000-5-0000-0000-M

Credits

Cast

Yangui Yu

Maofu Yu

Chengnuo Chang

Maomei Yu

Maolan Yu

Jiayi

Jiaqi

Mingzi


Director, Author, Cinematography

Diedie Weng


Dramaturgy, Co-Writer, Cinematography

Vadim Jendreyko


Producers

Susanne Guggenberger, Vadim Jendreyko, Lucie Tremblay, Diedie Weng, Hercli Bundi


Production Manager China

Pingjun Ding


Editors

Vadim Jendreyko, Annette Brütsch, Mahi Rahogozar, Diedie Weng


Original Music

Daniel Almada


Sound Design and Mix

Daniel Almada / TSL Studio

Pascal Dominique


Original Sound Recordings

Diedie Weng


City and Sound Recordings

Vadim Jendreyko


Postproduction and DCP

Hannes Rüttimann, Simon Allard


Postproduction Manager Canada

Nguqen-Anh Nguyen, Roxane de Konninck


Consulting

Deborah Palloway, Pingjun Ding


Translation & Subtitles

submarines–subtitling & translation

Lowik Media, Roxanne de Konnick


Production

Mira Film GmbH, Zürich


in Coproduction with

Lowik Media, Montréal

SRF Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen


Commissioning Editor

Urs Augstburger


National Coordination SRG SSR

Sven Wälti


Financially supported by

Bundesamt für Kultur

MEDIA Desk Suisse

Zürcher Filmstiftung

Fachausschuss Audiovision und

Multimedia der Kantone Basel Land & Basel Stadt

éducation 21 - Filme für eine Welt

Robert Bosch Stiftung

Succès Passage Antenne

Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit

Ontario Arts Council


Distribution Switzerland

Vinca Film GmbH


Distribution Canada

Kinosmith