What happens when the government makes you choose…
See the trailer
This is the Fang family from a Chinese village. Trapped by a strict cultural tradition to prefer boys over girls, Ms. Fang gave birth to 2 girls, Fang-Sha and Fang-Hai. Ms. Fang had 7 abortions in order to get a boy, Fang-Zhilong.
The Fangs raise their son, but can not care for their daughters. China’s now obsolete One Child Policy had penalized families with more than one child. To avoid the Population Control Police, the Fangs separate the girls at birth to live in different provinces.
The Fangs become outcasts in their own country as illegal migrant workers. They lose their factory job, are disqualified from a government pension, and stop receiving social service benefits–all the consequences of population-control restrictions.
Now, the girls return to one of China’s oldest cities, Suzhou, which has transformed into a busy cosmopolitan hub. Feeling out of place, they are strangers in their own home.
They struggle to work. They reject their parents. They run away. They fail out of school. And they are dejected. The Fangs undergo separation and loss, isolation and sacrifice, yet hope for connection through love in modern day China.
This unflinching and bold film bears witness to a family split but not broken, distraught yet hopeful.
Approach & Description
More Than One Child explores universal issues such as population control versus freedom of choice, the pursuit to belong to a society that labels you an outcast, and the strength of family bonds that seek to overcome separation.
The broad formed inquiry starts with an intimate portrayal that unveils the hearts and minds of a migrant Chinese family. We experience the personal hardship endured by the Fang family while of living in hiding. We witness the identity crisis of the teenage girls, whose existence is not recognized by their own country. The camera quietly follows their lives, allowing the viewer to become part of their daily challenges.
We get to know the Fang family quite well. They are one of the 262 million migrant Chinese workers. The seasonal employment opportunities draw the most desperate and poor into already overpopulated cities. The One-Child Policy along with the trend of urbanization are current and significant as social structures that deeply impact contemporary China.
While this is not a film about the politics of Chinese laws or statistics of the One-Child Policy, it is important to see some of the data to fully comprehend the social impact of the population control law. On a global scale, population control laws are making a significant difference. World population is estimated to grow from 7.1 billion in 2014 to 9.6 billion by 2050. China’s One-Child Policy in 1968 stabilized the country’s population growth from nearly 6.0 children per family in 1970 to 1.58 in 2011. The success of the dramatic rate drop is primarily due to the criticized implementation of a draconian law. The film does not enter a political debate about the policy or its implementation. But, the well-intentioned Policy compels families with multiple children into hiding, penalizes them with hefty fines and creates a gender preference for male children, all of which are the focus of the film.
Another obstacle is that urban law prohibits migrant families like the Fangs from enrolling their children in schools outside of the province where they were born. This phenomenon has precluded the Fangs from keeping their children together.
The girls face an uphill battle in a cultural and social sense. Daughters are not given the same advantages, benefits and care as the sons. A predisposition to obtain a son instead of a daughter is based on a long history of traditional cultural and family values, supported by Confucius philosophy in an agrarian based-economy. Invariably, the girls try to lead normal lives. How will their upbringing define the next generation? How will the Little Emperor’s Syndrome impact the new family structure and the next generation of parents?