Step Into the River is a five-time award-winning short film directed by animation artist Weijia Ma in 2020. The film, set in China, delves into the evil acts against girl children as a consequence of the country’s one-child policy. The story revolves around two young girls, Lu and Wei, who reside in a village close to the river banks.
The one-child policy and the preference for having a son have led some families to drown their baby girls in the river. The girls, Lu and Wei have a unique bond with this river and together they find the magical strength to fight their past. Moreover, this 15- minute film, in the Chinese language, covers themes of friendship, childhood, and politics.
Meet the Team of Step into The River
A team of enthusiastic creators has diligently worked to bring to light this serious social issue. Their team consists of:
Executive Producers: Damien Megherbi, Justin Pechberty
Voice: Yifei Chen, Mingen Zhang, Guifen Zhang, Ganfeng Zhu, Ninghu Wei, Zhuocheng Zhao, Chen Zhenhui, Nina Picard
Editor: Jérôme Bréau
Music Composer: Pablo Pico
Screenwriter: Weijia Ma
Sound Recordist: Corvo Lepesant-Lamari
Sound Editors: Didier Falk, Théo Serror
Sound Mixer: Benjamin Lecuyer
Awards for Step into The River
This brilliant short film has been officially selected for over ten film festivals and has achieved five awards during the following film festivals,
- Tehran International Short Film Festival (Iran, 2021)
- International Short Film Festival in Drama (Greece, 2021)
- Palm Springs International Short Film Festival (the United States, 2021)
- Vienne Tricky Women/Tricky Realities, 2021
- DOK Leipzig (Germany, 2020)
About the Director of Step into The River
Weijia Ma is an independent animation artist and a college professor. Apart from her short film Step Into the river, her other impressive works such as ‘My Quarantine Bear’ ‘The Same River Twice’ and ‘Lion Dance’ have also won several awards.
Step into The River Plot
This Step into The River film is an extension of Weijia’s ‘The Same River Twice’ and the story is still set in the village by the river. People’s lives are close to the river, giving it two different meanings, sometimes it symbolizes life and sometimes death. The director draws her inspiration from the river, which appears serene on the surface and mystical deep within. She uses this representation to describe the complexity and contradictions in our society. In addition, Weijia wrote the script picturing her own childhood memories of her friend and herself.
The story dives deeply into the fate of girls portrayed through the eyes of young kids and the consequences of the one-child policy. It reveals the sexist culture, where boys are given more importance while girls are perceived as a burden. This results in them feeling inferior and ashamed of their own female identity.
Chat with Weijia Ma of Step into The River
Weijia Ma, drawing inspiration from personal events and real incidents, beautifully weaves fiction with history in the narrative of this film. In an interview about the attitude of people in China towards girls, Weijia said, “It’s more of the culture that makes tragedies like this occur all the time.
Even before the one-child policy was implemented, this attitude towards girls was present for a long time. People had several children and back then, many families were poor and were not capable to raise all the children. So, some families would choose to abandon some of the babies, and a majority of the time, it would be girls.
Blending intergenerational history, personal memories, and deeply moving emotions, the climax of this film tugs at our heartstrings. When asked about the climax, she said “When I tried to create this film, the first thing that came to my mind was the climax scene. Later, while working with my production company, we altered the script several times but the climax was always there. We did not try to change the scene even a little bit so it’s a very essential, core moment of this film that first came to my mind.
Although the background of the story occurred during my childhood in the 1990s, by showing this, I am trying to recall more history for this subject because it’s not specific to one time period but it’s a deep value that we carried for many years. Since a lot of babies were abandoned, some even without a name given, that scene is a memorial for all the little ghosts.”
Step into The River Trailer
Step Into the river provides us anopportunity to step into the shoes of girls and understand the world the way they experience it. The film brings out the evil that still exists in our societies today and helps us question our own thoughts and actions.