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Film

Tuya's Marriage
Published August 25, 2008

Shot against the bleak backdrop of Inner Mongolia, director Wang Quan’an’s short but richly detailed film shows a stark contrast to the gritty, urban life of Beijing. The story centers on Tuya (Yu Nan) and Bater (Bater), a couple who are scratching out an existence with two young children while living on the unforgiving plains bordering Siberia.

After Bater becomes disabled while trying to dig a well to provide water (a scarce and precious commodity), Tuya takes over all his duties, including the heavy lifting and other tasks usually left to the male in the family. When her hapless neighbor Sen’ge (Sen’ge) helps her haul hay in his tricycle truck, the vehicle tips over, trapping Sen underneath and putting Tuya in the hospital. A diagnosis of the damage to her spine leads the couple to realize that neither one can continue to do the hard labor necessary to survive. With no other alternative, they decide to divorce so that Tuya can marry an able-bodied husband who can support them both.

The parade of suitors that follows is both humorous and heartbreaking as the men step forward and devise their own plans to rid Tuya of Bater. But as a strong Mongolian woman dedicated to the wellbeing of her family, she resists all offers that don’t include Bater. Rife with provincial humor, Tuya’s Marriage presents a view of rural Chinese society that’s more in line with the Film Bureau’s ideals of Chinese values.