Not One Less
Not One Less is a 1999 drama film by Chinese director Zhang Yimou. The film centers on a 13-year-old substitute teacher, Wei Minzhi, in the Chinese countryside. It addresses education reform in China, the economic gap between urban and rural populations, and the prevalence of bureaucracy and authority figures in everyday life. Zhang won the award for best director at the Golden Rooster Awards.
About Not One Less in brief
Not One Less is a 1999 drama film by Chinese director Zhang Yimou. The film centers on a 13-year-old substitute teacher, Wei Minzhi, in the Chinese countryside. It addresses education reform in China, the economic gap between urban and rural populations, and the prevalence of bureaucracy and authority figures in everyday life. The domestic release of Not One Less was accompanied by a Chinese government campaign aimed at promoting the film and cracking down on piracy. Internationally, the film was generally well-received, but it also attracted criticism for its ostensibly political message. Foreign critics are divided on whether the film should be read as praising or criticizing the Chinese government. It went on to win the Venice Film Festival’s Golden Lion and several other awards, and Zhang won the award for best director at the Golden Rooster Awards. The movie was filmed on location at Chicheng County’s Shuiquan Primary School, and in the city of Zhangjiakou; both locations are in Hebei province. In the 1990s, primary education reform had become one of the top priorities in the People’s Republic of China. About 160 million Chinese people had missed all or part of their education because of the Cultural Revolution in the late 1960s and early 1970s. In 1986 the National People’s Congress enacted a law calling for nine years of compulsory education. For this film, he cast only amateur actors whose real-life names and occupations resembled those of characters they played in the film.
There are also, however, elements of heavy editing—for example, Shelly Kraicer noted that many scenes have frequent, rapid cuts, partially as a result of filming with inexperienced actors. Zhang had to work closely with government censors during production of the film, and said that on the title cards at the end of the movie he had to write that the number of rural children dropping out of school each year was one million more than the number he believed the number was actually three times that. He related how the censors kept reminding him not to show China as too backward and too poor and said that he believed that the first year was the first to enjoy resources that were available to the rural population. The film was released by China Film Group Corporation in mainland China, and distributed by Sony Pictures Classics in North America and Columbia TriStar Film Distributors internationally. It was Zhang’s ninth film, but only the second not to star long-time collaborator Gong Li. For the film’s release, Zhang withdrew it and another film from the 1999 Cannes Film Festival, and published a letter rebuking Cannes for politicization of and \”discrimination against Chinese cinema against Chinese cinema. For more information on the film visit: http://www.cannesfilm.org.uk/not-one-less-film/index.html. For the full list of awards and nominations, see the list of the Golden Lion winners and the Golden Rooster awards.