Lu and Wei live in a village in rural China. The young girls often go to the nearby river to play or fish with their fathers. The river has a special meaning for them because China’s one-child policy has led to some parents drowning their newborn daughters there. A poetic and touching animation in which Weijia Ma explores the consequences of this tragic chapter in the lives of many Chinese families.

A very atmospheric short film, an animated masterpiece: STEP INTO THE RIVER is strong, poetic, magic. It is no surprise that Ma Weijia’s work is shortlisted for the next Oscars. With an oneiric atmosphere, this short animation brings us to rural China, at the time when the one-child policy was still current (it was, in fact, modified only very recently to allow couples to have up to three children). STEP INTO THE RIVER highlights this dramatic social issue, here represented by the river where little girls were often drown. The protagonists, Lu and Wei, embark on an adventure by boat and, taken by surprise by a tempest, are helped and saved by the spirits of all the children whom were drown there, and are able to come back home safe and sound. A deep story of friendship and courage, poignant and touching.

STEP INTO THE RIVER won the Silver Hugo Award at Chicago International Film Festival (and was in competition for the Golden Hugo too), the Fall Award as Best Animated Short at Dreamachine International Film Festival, Best Animated Short at Palm Springs International ShortFest, Special Mention in the Rex Category for Animation at Amarcort Film Festival. It was also in nomination at San Francisco International Film Festival and more.

Director: Ma Weijia
Country: France
Year: 2020
Running time: 15