Dayao Swims Against the Flow

Impossible to resist the appeal of the city – unless you’re simple nature boy Dayao.


Pretty immature 28-year-old Dayao lives on a farm but works in the city just like his pregnant wife Tiantian. He is 1.000 % into nature; she is adamant on buying a flat in the city, despite having no money. During an accident on the construction site where he works, he deliberately hurts himself and wakes up completely changed, back into childhood, with no memory. As Dayao slowly recovers at his mother’s, he clearly is not unhappy: he spends his days speaking to animals and contemplating nature. Meanwhile, his wife works a lot and sleeps at a young girl’s place who shows her freedom the city can offer. When Dayao’s mum dies, Tiantian brings him to the city. She gets fired and gives birth to a boy. Even if Dayao barely speaks, he can now take care of himself – yet Tiantian does not want to lose the liberty she just gained as a woman and leaves for Shanghai. Dayao leaves as well with his son, to live on a mountain. A year later, a busy Tiantian can finally take a vacation and go in search of her family.


I want to tell a modern tale inspired by people around me. After the rural exodus in modern China, the city is flooded with materialistic desire and villages are buried in the past. My cousin named Dayao, who was born in the countryside and now lives in the city has always felt haunted by a sense of alienation. He has always had a strong wish to flee the city and the idea that living there is the sense of History. If all my characters bear different perspectives on freedom and existence, the film explores the joy and simplicity of rural life, which touched me the most in my childhood. And my desire is to question our models of happiness through values that find resonance among us all. When he decides to hurt himself, Dayao chooses, subconsciously maybe, to restart from scratch. To be reborn and lead a simpler, more minimalist life. This rebirth is a reflection on my country.

FeatureLab 2021
Discover more details here:
TFL Catalogue 2021

TFL Co- Production Award (€ 50,000) thanks to the support of Creative Europe - MEDIA Programme of the European Union

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