A rare example of a Mainland Chinese film with a devoutly Christian central character, helmer Gan Xiaoer’s “Raised From Dust” is a gentle, sympathetic look at the role of faith in a poor rural community. Minimalist tale of a woman’s struggle to make ends meet suffers a few longueurs en route, but emerges as a simple plea for acceptance. Like Gan’s Christian-themed “The Only Sons,” this indie will remain underground domestically, with unusual subject matter auguring well for fest communions.
In the Hunan flatlands, housewife Xiao-Li (Hu Shuli) is attempting to stay afloat emotionally and financially while her husband (Zhang Xianmin) languishes with a fatal disease. Gloom intensifies when she’s told to pay debts or have her young daughter (Lu Shengyue) removed from school. Supported by members of her Catholic church, the woman’s life slowly improves as events culminate in a wedding celebration. Free of speech-making, the pic is political only in personal terms and achieves the objective of representing ordinary Chinese with religious convictions. Inexperienced yet highly committed cast gets the message across effectively. Tech package is better than might be expected from the outmoded Beta SP video format.