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Wang Lina’s experimental debut explores the sensitivity shared by narrative filmmaking and documenting reality, unveiling poetry from the minutiae of Uighurs’ life in Xinjiang like none other. Tailing an endearing boy named Isa in Shaya, her heavenly home village surrounded by textured sand dunes and millennia-old trees, she tugs viewers’ heartstrings with a story about treasures in his carefree childhood and how they gradually fade away — as love, home and personal advancement get weighed against another for this generation of minority children, who must bid many farewells to assimilate into the more widely acknowledged best life.
Winner of the Grand Prix of the Generation Kplus section at the Berlinale and the Asian Future award at the Tokyo International Film Festival.
“Dedicated to her hometown of Shaya, Xinjiang, and filled with both affection and a clear-eyed understanding of its woes, this Uighur-language coming-of-age story is restrained in scale yet rousing in emotional impact.” —Sarah Ward, Screen International “...Thrives on humanity rather than dogma, and offers poetry rather than propaganda…. The film conjures up a quietly heartbreaking drama that works on multiple levels.” —Clarence Tsui, Hollywood Reporter “As captivating a debut anyone could dream of making…. A painter-poet manifests superbly in this visual love-letter to Xinjiang.” —James Cansdale-Cook, Asian Movie Pulse “A FIRST FAREWELL might be another sign of independent cinema revival in China…. [Director] Wang Lina avoids stereotyping and exoticization.” —Maja Korbecka, Easternkicks