Carnegie Mellon University
March 04, 2021

CMU Film Festival Showcases Chinese Film “So Long, My Son”

By Jolanta Lion

“So Long, My Son,” the next title in the CMU International Film Festival’s “Faces of Home” series, is a deep and moving generational drama which hits the right notes. From visionary Chinese director Wang Xiaoshuai, it chronicles dramatic changes in the lives of two families living under China’s one-child policy.

The film begins in the mid-1980s, following two close families working together in a factory in northern China. Their sons are born on the same day, as if linked by destiny. Then a tragic accident pulls the families apart. As China’s dramatic social transformation generates increasing inequalities, they follow different paths both geographically and financially. Moving backwards and forwards from the accident through four decades of Chinese history, acclaimed director Xiaoshuai carefully constructs a deeply moving drama of ordinary lives and severed connections amid extraordinary social change.

“‘So Long, My Son’ is a testament to history – it shows how ordinary Chinese felt as they experienced shattering changes in society, family and in their personal identities,” Xiaoshuai said in a statement. “To recreate all of this in this film, I revisit the 1980s all the way up through the present.”

Wendy Ide of The Observer wrote in a review, “So measured is the pacing, so sinuous the timeline, so understated the subtle ache of the performances that you don’t immediately realize that Wang Xiaoshuai’s exquisite three-hour drama has been performing the emotional equivalent of open-heart surgery on the audience since pretty much the first scene.”   

Leading cast members Wang Jingchun and Yong Mei deliver compassionate performances that tug at the raw emotions of the audience as an aging couple dealing with the loss of a child. Their chemistry on screen won them Best Acting awards at multiple film festivals.

Viewing for “So Long, My Son” will be from March 6 to 12 with registration starting on March 4. The first 30 people to register with the promo code “CMUIFF” will be able to watch for free. Tickets afterwards will be $5. There will be a free live discussion with the film’s director, Wang Xiaoshuai, on March 11 at 6 p.m. (EST), which requires registration. 

Tickets can be purchased for the film. You can also register to join the live discussion.

The event is presented in conjunction with SCREENSHOT: ASIA, a joint project from the Film and Media Studies Program and Asian Studies Center at the University of Pittsburgh. It is sponsored by the Humanities Scholars Program and CMU's Graduate Student Assembly.

Xiaoshuai was a pioneer of Chinese independent films in the 1990s and has gone on to garner a global reputation for works such as “The Days” (1993), “Beijing Bicycle” (2001) and “In Love We Trust” (2008). His films have competed four times at the Cannes Film Festival (twice in the main competition), twice in the Berlinale and also at the Venice and San Sebastian film festivals. In 2010 he was made chevalier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Minister of Culture.

You can obtain additional information and imagery for the CMU IFF.


The Carnegie Mellon International “Faces” Film Festival was created in 2006 and is a project of the Humanities Center at CMU. The festival prides itself on being the only international film festival organized and run by university students from across Pittsburgh. Films showcased focus on current and global social issues that create meaningful dialogue throughout the broader Pittsburgh community.