Baby (Bao Bei Er)

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China | 2018 | 96 minutes | Liu Jie

Yang Mi stars as an impoverished young woman who goes to extreme lengths to save a baby born with a health defect from being discarded by her family in this empathetic, fast-paced social melodrama that takes on China’s birth-restriction policies.

"The single-minded focus of the screenplay, coupled with a standout performance by the even more focused Yang Mi, produces a fast-paced emotional chiller."—The Hollywood Reporter

Set in modern-day Nanjing, China, Liu Jie's realist drama stars Yang Mi as Meng, an 19-year-old girl plagued with chronic illness and poverty trying to survive in an ableist, patriarchal society. Suffering from a congenital illness, Meng was abandoned by her parents and left to state-subsidized foster care. As a young adult, she struggles to take care of herself and her disabled foster mother, finding it challenging to secure a job while grappling with persistent health problems. After lying about her condition, she begins a physically demanding position as a janitor at a children's hospital and encounters a newborn with the same birth defects she experienced. Since China's one-child policy limits family-planning options, the baby's father is ready to let the newborn die rather than put her through a harrowing series of surgeries with no guarantee for survival. He believes that even if the child survives, her quality of life will be severely diminished due to society's disdain for the genetically disadvantaged—especially girls. Relentless in her pursuit of justice, Meng sees herself in the baby, and makes it her personal mission to give her a fighting chance at survival. Baby raises the question: How much is a human life worth?

Director Biography
Born in 1968 in Tianjin, China, Liu Jie came to directing from cinematography: "As I shot more films, I started to learn more and more personal ways of expressing myself." Nine years in the making, Baby was inspired by a friend who had to make the same wrenching decision depicted in his film; it continues Liu's interest in socially aware filmmaking.

Sponsored by China Studies Program at UW, Confucius Institute of the State of Washington

  • Original Language Title: Bao Bei Er
  • Director: Liu Jie
  • Principal Cast: Yang Mi, Guo Jingfei, Hong-Chi Lee, Wang Yanjun, Zhu Shaojun, Yan Surong
  • Premiere Status: US Premiere
  • Country: China
  • Year: 2018
  • Running Time: 96 minutes
  • Producer: Shan Gao
  • Screenplay: Liu Jie
  • Cinematographers: Florian Zinke
  • Editors: William Cheung, Ching-Song Liao
  • Music: Guo Sida
  • Website: Official Film Website
  • Filmography: Hide and Seek (2016); De Lan (2015); Young Style (2013); Judge (2009); Courthouse on Horseback (2006)
  • Language: Mandarin
  • Has Subtitles: Yes
  • Format: DCP
  • International Sales: Wild Bunch