"Walking to School" is a solid feature debut by brothers Peng Chen and Peng Jiahuang.
A simple story, well told, of a rural tragedy that leads to the building of a bridge, “Walking to School” is a solid feature debut by brothers Peng Chen and Peng Jiahuang, founders of Shenzhen-based ad agency New Classic. Well-shot item, which doesn’t overdo its ethnic or cutesy aspects, should slide easily into kids’ fests, with some cable potential.
In a remote mountain village in southern China’s Yunnan province, Naxiang (Anamuling), the teenage daughter of a Lisu minority family, can only attend school using a rusty old cable slide across a dangerous river. Agile Naxiang isn’t fazed, but her 7-year-old brother, Wawa (Ding Jiali), desperately wants to have a go, which worries teaching intern Miss Nie (Cao Xiwen), newly arrived from Shenzhen. Having a pretty young outsider modernize rural traditions is a long-established device in mainland Chinese cinema, but the film largely concentrates on the two younger leads, charmingly played and lightly directed. Final section is too heavyhanded in its message, but Taiwanese d.p. Li Yi-hsu’s lensing of the rugged locations in Fugong county impart a nice verismo feel.