On the audio track Lei Jiaqi starts to recall the 1950s. He is then 4 years old and his father Lei Ting is sent to the countryside. Jiaqi stays behind with his sisters and his ill mother. When mum passes away and turns into a Silver Bird, Ting is forbidden to stay in the town with his children. The kids are sent to an orphanage, where they turn into birds in a cage. While the country is in turmoil, a Rainbow Fish transforms itself into a woman and decides to help the kids.
Caught between semi-gods and mass madness, in a world of propaganda images, surrealist collage and pop-art animation, Lei’s family struggle to live through China’s tumultuous times of the 1950s and 1960s.
"I would say this film is an essay film. When we talk about essay films, we may think of this vein of cinema from the 1960s onwards. It could be considered as a third way of cinema, between live action and documentary, which allows the authors to express themselves more freely with sounds and images. Essay film has less restriction on filmmaking. For example, live action films can encounter constraints on actors or budgets, and documentaries can be limited by the timing of filming or ethics. But an essay film is more personal and more self-contained. So in terms of classification, I think my film is in tune with essay film."
- Lei Lei
"At the beginning I couldn't have imagined the final outcome. The first thing I was interested in was the collage effect with clay animation and cut-out of old newspapers and magazines. So I did some demos. And when we went to some project markets, I realized that the biggest problem was that it's very flat. So I made various attempts, but sometimes I was stuck in the difficulty of how to make it cinematic enough. An important turning point came with my first experimental feature film Breathless Animals, it helped a lot with all the trial and error. By exploring sound, editing and the relationship between sound and picture, I found my own expression that allowed my film to work in the cinema."
- Lei Lei