Currently in production, the upcoming Chinese art house film A Loner (大雪冬至) aims to highlight the issue of empty-nesters and loneliness in China. The film stars renowned actress Zhu Xijuan (祝希娟, first-ever winner of the Hundred Flowers Award for Best Actress in 1962) as a 73 year-old lady named Wei Daxue who lives alone with her dog Dongzi in a Beijing courtyard home.
Thanks to contemporary China’s rapid economic growth and shifting social landscape, an increasing number of elderly parents live separated from their — oftentimes sole — children. According to the China National Committee on Aging, there were 100 million of these empty nesters in 2013. That number number is projected to increase to 200 million by 2030.
Personal experiences inspired 34 year old director Xing Xiao (邢潇) to address this topic.
“My mother lives alone in my hometown, with her two dogs. I don’t have much time to be with her. That is the reason I wanted to make this film. And as a director, I want to make films with a deeper focus on human concerns,” said Xing, who previously directed the two romance films Zero Point Five Love and Love Shock.
Actress Zhu, who turned 79 while the film was shooting, also found resonance with the film’s story.
“Empty-nesters are a social issue and we are not prepared to solve the problem. Society not only needs to handle the problem of senior isolation but also provide a better life quality to the elderly,” said Zhu.
A Loner is produced in part by Yourpet Pictures, an arm of one of China’s biggest pets services companies co-founded by Han Hong, one of China’s most famous singers. The film is expected to complete production sometime in early 2017.