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Children find their destiny

By Xu Fan | China Daily | Updated: 2022-10-11 08:12

A scene from the movie shows Ma's character comforting her daughter played by Luo Yichun.[Photo provided to China Daily]

"I read a book about the Shanghai orphans who were sent to live with their foster parents in Inner Mongolia. Most stories are very touching. I still remember that a female herder led a very frugal life to raise six adopted children from the south, and a foster family persisted over years to seek the best available medical services to treat their foster son, who walked with a pronounced limp," says Ma.

Also starring actor Chen Baoguo and ethnic Mongolian singer-actor Ayanga, the 124-minute movie unfolds with two parallel plots respectively set in recent times and the late 1950s. Chen plays Du Sihan, a retired shutterbug, who travels to Inner Mongolia seeking his lost younger sister, who is left in a Shanghai orphanage, as a redemption journey to remedy the family's decadeslong anguish.

Interwoven with flashbacks, the tale reveals the bitter yet touching past, chronicling how his sister is adopted by the ethnic Mongolian mother — played by actress Ma — whose selfless love mends the young girl's injured heart.

To better translate her role, the first time in her two-decade-long acting career that she is speaking ethnic Mongolian throughout a movie, Ma traveled to Ulgai Prairie in the northeast of Xiliin Gol League in late May last year, learning Mongolian and ethnic customs from herding families before the four-month-long shooting.

"I have learned that Mongolians worship fire, so they never fall asleep with their feet facing the stove. Besides, they treat guests with cut mutton but will pay attention to keep the knife pointing toward themselves," recalls Ma.

The shooting has also shaped a beautiful memory with the vast grassland and clear sky, as well as herds of cattle and sheep, a sight to banish the noisy hustle and bustle of stressful metropolitan life.

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