The Orphan of Anyang- -
A prostitute from the Northeast, desperate and unable to make ends meet, abandons her baby. An unemployed factory worker decides to take the child for the 200 yuan (about $37 Canadian) a month in child support promised by its mother. His early attempts at child-rearing are somewhat painful to watch, but also charming and amusing. Eventually, he and the mother become friendly and it seems that the child will be raised in a sweetly unorthodox family. However, when the woman's pimp, a local gangster, not only finds out that he may have fathered the child, but also that he is dying of cancer, he decides that he must adopt the baby - and is willing to resort to violence if necessary.
The Orphan of Anyang is a 2001 Chinese film from Sixth Generation writer-director Wang Chao. It is Wang’s first feature film as director (he had previously served as an assistant director to Chen Kaige), and is based on a novel written by the director.
The film constitutes the first part of a loose trilogy on life in modern China, followed by Day and Night (2004), and Luxury Car (2006). The film was produced by the independent Beijing-based Laurel Films, founded by screenwriter Fang Li. International distribution was by the French company Onoma.
The Orphan of Anyang tells the story of a recently unemployed factory worker in the city of Anyang in Henan province, who comes across an abandoned child. Discovering that the child belongs to a local prostitute and mobster, the poor worker agrees to take care of the baby. When the mobster discovers that he is dying of cancer, however, he attempts to take the child back, now his only heir.
The film is marked by its use of static cameras and a naturalistic use of lighting and sound, prompting one critic to note its similarity to the films of Italian neorealism and the Dogma 95 manifesto.
The film consisted primarily of non-professional actors with most coming locally from Anyang itself. Director Wang Chao took four separate trips to Anyang in preparation for the making of the film, three of which were devoted to the purpose of casting the leads. Wang gathered ten locals to audition for the role of Yu Dagang, the tender but lonely and desperate factory worker who finds himself the caretaker of a baby. The role would eventually go to Sun Guilin, who Wang chose in part because he possessed “calm, but also with some personality and a little dignity and hope.” Zhu Jie, the actor chosen to play Boss Si-De, the dying triad gangster and the father of the titular orphan, was another local actor found in Anyang.
Of the three leads, only Yue Senyi, who plays the tough prostitute, Feng Yanli was hired from Beijing. Wang noted that she possessed “slight stubbornness” but a “strong spirit,” such that she could play the part of a prostitute without “conveying misery.” Extras, meanwhile, also came primarily from Anyang. Most of the thugs that surround Si-de, for example, were local criminals. Wang noted that he could never find actors who could walk in groups the way that real criminals could. [Wikipedia]