A film by Shu Haolun / dGenerate Collection at Icarus Films
In 1980s Shanghai, a teenage boy discovers a forbidden world of love and freedom on the brink of massive historical change. 16 year-old Xiaoli lives in a communal block on Shimen Road, a close-knit neighborhood that no longer exists in Shanghai. It’s the late 1980s; while his teachers talk about China’s recovery from the devastation of the Cultural Revolution, another wave of transformation is already underway, as Xiaoli encounters Western businessmen, Coca Cola bottles and other foreign elements on the streets. The allure of new cultures and ideas sweeps through Xiaoli and the two young women closest to him. His best friend Lanmi carouses with foreigners, scandalizing the neighborhood. Lili, an idealistic classmate whom he loves, wants to quit school and join the student democracy demonstrations that have started in Beijing. Xiaoli must decide where his future lies in a world suddenly robbed of stability and innocence.
Building from his acclaimed documentary Nostalgia, which commemorated the now-demolished neighborhoods of Shanghai, Shu Haolun’s first dramatic feature vividly resurrects the experience of social and cultural awakening in China during the 1980s. Shu weaves a rich tapestry of memory using multiple devices, including still photography, richly textured cinematography, and an elaborately recreated milieu rich with characters. No. 89 Shimen Road not only vividly recalls an era of China’s history, but a crisis in values affecting its youth that resonates with the present.
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