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The Beekeeper and His Son

2016
Distributed by Grasshopper Films, 12 East 32nd St., 4th Floor, New York, NY 10016
Produced by Susanne Guggenberger, Vadim Jendreyko, Lucie Tremblay, Diedie Weng
Directed by Diedie Weng
DVD, color, 85 min.
General Adult
Family Relations, Agriculture


Reviewed by Irina Stanishevskaya, University of Alabama at Birmingham Libraries

Recommended   
 
Date Entered: 7/10/2018

This documentary observes the meaning of life through a family drama between father and son and the perceptions of different generations. The film follows a small family that lives in a rural area in a mountain valley in Northern China, where Yangui – a father in his early seventies - attempts to convince his twenty-year-old son, Naofu, to learn beekeeping to continue the family’s bee farm. Yangui believes that the family business is a great career option for his son, but Naofu, after returning home from an unsuccessful job hunt in a city, is not very enthusiastic about becoming a beekeeper. Even though the father tries to teach his son traditional methods and his own experiences of running the farm and taking care of bees, he notices that his son doesn’t take any initiatives to seriously learn the family business. Instead, Naofu is more interested in leaving modern ways of conducting business and achieving more freedom from his family. His motivation push him to use a self-enforced study format to learn more about marketing principles and sales strategies. He uses his newfound knowledge to argue with his father about the limitations of traditional farming methods.

Naofu’s mother, Chengnuo, who witnesses the tension between her husband and son, sympathizes with Naofu’s struggles and motivates him to enter a graduate school to earn a Master’s degree. However, Naofu struggles with doubts about passing his exams. “I feel trapped here, all stressed out. I am ready to explode,” – concludes Naofu as he decides to return to the city as a honey salesman.

The filmmakers offers viewers a documentary that explores the family relationships and conflicts between two generations and observes the clash of traditional and modern meanings of life through lenses of rural and urban values. The narration of the documentary is in the Chinese language with English subtitles. It is appropriate for public and academic library collections.