Bai Xue, China
Peipei (Huang Yoa) attends school in Hong Kong but lives in mainland China which means she takes the train and crosses the border every day. Her world is disjointed. Her alcoholic mother likes to party and her father works long hours and is rarely seen. It may be her parents are separated- that is hard to say but either way she is very much on her own at age 16. Her best friend is rich and doesn’t really understand Peipei’s monetary problems, but what they do share is that they are both alone. Both families are not paying attention to what these girls are doing. When her best friend asks her to take a trip during Christmas vacation to Japan, she makes the mistake of saying yes full knowing that she lacks the money. Before long she has gone from a waitress to a smuggler by accidently meeting a boy Hao (Sunny Sun) who works in the same trade. With her innocent looks and school girl touch, she is soon out-doing all her colleagues by smuggling the latest iPhones and is willing to take on even more dangerous missions for the illustrious Mrs. Hua (Carmen Soup).
This is Chinese director Bai Xue’s debut film that captures the mental, emotion and physical state of a girl coming-of-age in a marginal world. She physically crosses the border but is she mature to handle its consequences? The film captures this transition by catching the crazy bustle that happens on each side of the border but once at the border the film slows down, almost freezes making the audience feel the pressure that Peipei must also experience every time she crosses it. I was really enjoying this hustling bustling city atmosphere knowing that I would soon be visiting it. I sat next to a young Chinese student studying engineering and he said, “It really is like that. You won’t believe the price that they can sell an iPhone in mainland China. It is really a lucrative business but if you get caught, it has extreme consequences. You would have to be really desperate to become a smuggler.”