A Chinese New Year legend reimagined as a contemporary coming-of-age story.

NIAN was released by Apple and directed by Lulu Wang for Chinese New Year 2021, which this years marks the advent of year of the ox. This short film is entirely shot on an iPhone 12 Pro Max and, apart from being a sort of advertisement for the surprising potential and quality of iPhone’s camera, it is a very good film indeed. It is the story of Ting, a brave and curious child who lives near the forest and loves to explore. Ting has been growing up with stories and legends and one of these is about the Nian, a monster living on the mountains, who comes out at Lunar New Year to eat especially children. And while her parents try to keep her away from dangers in the forest, Ting keeps adventuring in the trees, until she meets the Nian itself. Ting does not believe in the tales that depict him as vicious and harmful, and the two end up bonding. NIAN is a coming-of-age story and the ending is heartwarming: her parents finally join her in believing in the monster and they take from her courage to be brave themselves, not scared anymore of their daughter growing up. NIAN is simple and immersive and makes you forget that you’re watching a sort of advertisement. The director does a great job in shooting the entire story with a camera phone and is really skilled in lightless shots. It is also very remarkable the performance of the first actress, depicting the younger Ting: En You Yang.

Happy Lunar New Year!

Title: NIAN
Director: Lulu Wang
Country: China, USA
Year: 2021
Running time: 11