The Taste of Rice Flower (米花之味), the latest film by emerging director Pengfei (full name Song Pengfei, 宋鹏飞), recently entered production. Set along the Sino-Burmese border in Yunnan province, the movie stars actress Ying Ze as an ethnically Dai woman named Ye Nan who returns to her village to take care of her troublesome 11 year-old son. The film addresses issues of poverty, religion, and the survival of minority traditions in the face of a modernizing China.
Director Pengfei first cut his teeth as a co-writer for Taiwanese director Tsai Ming-liang’s Stray Dogs. As a result, The Taste of Rice Flower features a primarily Taiwanese crew who also have prior experience working with Tsai.
Pengfei’s directorial debut, the 2015 film Underground Fragrance (地下香), also drew heavy stylistic influences from Tsai and won accolades at that year’s Chicago International Film Festival. However, with its story about individuals who live in Beijing’s underground city, the film was not authorized for wide release in China.
Focusing instead on the Dai, one of China’s 56 ethnic minorities, The Taste of Rice Flower has won the support of Yunnan local authorities and obtained permission to shoot near the Burmese border despite a continuing internal conflict on the other side.
The Taste of Rice Flower expects to complete production later in 2017.