How Is Your Fish Today?

Director: Xiaolu Guo
Screenwriters: Xiaolu Guo, Rao Hui

Institute History

  • 2007 Sundance Film Festival


Novelist and filmmaker Xiaolu Guo turns in an impressive debut narrative feature that ambitiously tells an enigmatic story, while simultaneously dissecting the very enigma that is storytelling.

Cowritten by Guo and screenwriter Rao Hui, the film's putative story operates on two levels. The first concerns a frustrated writer (played by Hui himself), and the other focuses on his dramatic subject, a young man named Lin Hao, whom we witness traveling across China in a visual depiction of Rao Hui's still-unfolding screenplay. Fleeing his past, Lin Hao seeks a remote, legendary village called Mohe at the very northern border of China. As Rao Hui tentatively moves Lin Hao through various settings and encounters, the character's history and motivations come into question, and he morphs into a cipher, stuck in narrative space and time. Meanwhile, Rao Hui undertakes his own journey to Mohe, entering the dimension of his narrative and finally encountering his creation in one of the remotest places on earth, or in his imagination.

Easily bridging these narrative diversions, Guo's handy use of elision and metaphor, both as devices and narrative subjects, renders her film playful without sacrificing lyricism or human drama. Superb cinematography (mostly on location) and a searingly beautiful music score help round out her unique and moving sojourn in storytelling.

— Shannon Kelley

Screening Details

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