In the 1960s, a father moved to Guiyang in southwest China's Guizhou Province from Shanghai, encouraged by the Chinese government to help build up the poor western region. By the 1980s, he wished to return to Shanghai and purposely destroys his 19-year-old daughter's first love with a local boy.
Disgusted with her father's interference and shocked by her parents' despair, Qing Hong, the daughter, flounders between love and family.
That is the story in Wang Xiaoshuai's film "Shanghai Dreams," which just won the Jury Prize at the 58th Cannes Film Festival.
As a leader of China's "Sixth Generation" directors, Wang Xiaoshuai finally brought his film to cinemas. Many critics say that "The World" by Jia Zhangke and "Shanghai Dreams" by Wang Xiaoshuai, which won permission for theater release, is a sign that the Sixth Generation is "rising to the surface."
The "Sixth Generation" is the title given to a group of Chinese directors who graduated from the Beijing Film Academy and Central Drama Institute in the late 1980s and 1990s. They include Wang Xiaoshuai, Lou Ye, Lu Xuechang, Zhang Yuan, Guan Hu, Li Xin and Jia Zhangke.
The directors' focus on contemporary society and striking personal style distinguishes them from the Fifth Generation, led by Zhang Yimou and Chen Kaige, and had made them "underground." Last year, however, their films started to rise onto the ground from "underground."
"The move is the result of every side's hope," said Li Xun, a researcher with the Film Art Research Center of China, "The directors wish for the recognition of the society and home audience, the government also showed its welcome and the audience hope to watch their works in cinemas."Some of the Sixth Generation's movies -- "Beijing Bicycle" by Wang Xiaoshuai; "Xiao Wu," "Platform" and "Unknown Pleasures" by Jia Zhangke; "Suzhou River" by Lou Ye; "East Palace, West Palace" and "Beijing Bastards" by Zhang Yuan -- circulate among a small cluster of people by DVD/VCD and Internet.
Despite gaining permission for public release, these artistic films are unlikely to rake in box office dollars, because of their avant-garde style and story lines don't have wide appeal in China.
Lu Chuan earned back 3 million yuan ( 363,000 US dollars) from the box office in China after investing 10 million yuan in "Kekexili Mountain Patrol." Jia Zhangke earned less than 1 million yuan in China from "The World," which cost 1.2 million to produce."Shanghai Dreams" is confronted with the same challenge as it premiered worldwide Tuesday.
Many Sixth Generation works find critical acclaim overseas. "Platform" won the Best Asian Film at 57th Venice International Film Festival and Best Film and Best Director Award at 22nd Three Continents Festival of Nantes, "Beijing Bicycle" won the Silver Bear Award at the 51st Berlin Film Festival, and "Kekexili Mountain Patrol" won the Special Jury Prize at the 17th Tokyo International Film Festival.
Experts say overseas awards can help boost the films' recognition at home, said Wang Zhimin, the director of Film Studies Institute in Beijing Film Academy,
"People's altitude towards a film may change more or less after it wins an international award," Wang Zhimin.
Li Xun said lack of a market in China for art films shows how the country's industry is under developed.
"Few release agencies want to buy their films, which could draw too few audiences," he said, "The prize winning can boost the films' value, and is the only way into the home market, I think."