The Beekeeper and His Son

The Beekeeper and His Son

Saturday, May 6, 2017 - 12:00pm
Monday, May 8, 2017 - 4:45pm
Trailer(s)
Community Partner(s)
Diedie Weng | 
Switzerland/Canada |
 2016 | 
85 minutes

Despite the ongoing environmental damage and pollution that have depleted his bee colonies, Lao Yu, a stalwart beekeeper in Northern China, is determined to keep his family tradition alive. After a year of living in the city, Lao’s son Maofu has returned home to their mountain village. It doesn’t take long before intergenerational conflicts erupt between father and son.

While Lao tries to show Maofu the workings of the bee yard, Maofu has his head buried in his cell phone and business textbooks. Wishing his son would see the value in the physical labour, Lao yells, “You can’t just read marketing books and dream of profit!” For Maofu, city life is alienating and feels like an “endless rainy day”, but in the face of China’s rapidly changing globalized economy, he’s convinced that the future of their family business lies in the sales and marketing aspect of honey. Small-scale production is outdated and old-fashioned, not to mention an incredible amount of work.

Despite the family squabbles, there is a gentle rhythm to the ritual of daily chores, including making noodle dough, washing clothes in a nearby river, and tending to the apiary. Director Diedie Weng’s patient camerawork brilliantly captures family and animal life with care and often surprising comic relief. A giant stubborn pig and an exuberant white goose have as much personality as the humans. The goose hilariously interrupts every family fight, squawking loudly as though it were playing the role of mediator. Caught between three generations (his granddaughter, his son, and his elderly mother), Lao struggles with changing family dynamics and a fading tradition. But underneath it all is a genuine tenderness that offers hope and resilience. -SC