For the Children (2002)—Chinese
After her husband and child died, the peasant Meili Zhang founded a school for the children in her isolated, parched village in northwest China. She was not a teacher, but she did her best and she loved her kids. She founded the school, she says, "so that the kids may have hope." Xia Yu, a gorgeous young woman from Beijing a thousand miles away, and a "real" teacher, comes to help at the school. She corrects their pronunciation, teaches them some English, and encourages Meili to obtain a computer. Of course, mutual culture shock sets in. Xia stares in disbelief as the same pail of water is used to wash clothes, rinse your face, make tea with orange rinds, and water the donkey. Meili can only respond to her guest's strange ways with "Teacher Xia, you city people are strange." What transpires is an unfolding friendship of two women from radically different socio-economic and cultural contexts. Two sub-plots revolve around the men in their lives—Meili's love for the local "film projectionist" Wang Shu, and Xia's estrangement from her husband because of her growing affection for Meili and her school. Late in the film turn about is fair play when Xia takes the entire class of peasant kids to Beijing. In Mandarin with English subtitles.