A Young Patriot

china2015 / 106min
Director:Du Haibin

A Young Patriot is a documentary about a post-90s young man Xiao Zhao. The film follows the protagonist Xiao Zhao's life experience, from a 19-year-old boy waving flag and shouting slogan " Long live China! Go China!" on the street of Pingyao ancient town in Shanxi province, to a college student in Chengdu of Sichuan province, and as a volunteer teaching in Liangshan Yi autonomous region.It records Xiao Zhao's emotional and ideological change during the four years starting from his senior high school to his sophomore year, and meanwhile witnesses and presents the restlessness and disturbance the Chinese society is currently undergoing.

As a post-70s, I find that I have become more and more unfamiliar with today’s young people, especially those born after 1990, which makes me, a documentary filmmaker restless.  

In October of 2009, an accidental chance brought me and Zhao Changtong, the protagonist in my film together. He was holding high a national flag and expressing his passionate and intense patriotism on the street of Pingyao ancient town, followed by a group of students. It was the 60th anniversary of the founding of New China, and many celebrations were going on nationwide.

For quite a while after that, Xiao Zhao's image was haunting in my mind. Then I was thinking, maybe it’s God’s will to let us meet and through him I can get to know today's youngsters better. Therefore, I set off with my team again, and for this time, it took me nearly 5 years.

During the 5 years, Xiao Zhao has grown from a fanatical patriot to a mature undergraduate. He experienced his first love and breakup, got some honors, and had some losses.

He went through meetings and partings with his families, and witnessed the demolition of his family’s old house. We have noticed each minor change happened on Xiao Zhao during this time. From him, I can clearly see myself, and concretely realize the living conditions of today’s young people and what they are thinking about.

However, I have to admit that, at many occasions, before I could summarize and digest what I had seen, new feelings came up. This made me in a state of aphasiac. I don't know if it is me who is getting blunt, or this is just a kind of “new normalcy”.

During this period, Chinese society is also undergoing fundamental changes, and undercurrent surges. We, stuck in this, feel deep powerless of ourselves, but also a nameless thrill too.

Anyway, using documentary to express some specific feelings is a lucky thing for me.


DU HAI-BIN, graduated from the Photography School of Beijing Film Academy in 2000.
A Young Patriot (documentary, 2015)
Award:The 39th Hong Kong International Film Festival Documentary Competition Jury Prize   
Sheffield Doc/Fest, Grand Jury Competition(2015)
37th Moscow International Film Festival, Official Documentary Competition

63rd Melbourne International Film Festival
9th (Brisbane) Asia Pacific Screen Awards (APSA)

1428 (documentary, 2009)
Award: Orizzonti Prize for Best documentary, the 66th Venice International Film Festival
Umbrella… (documentary, 2007)
Award: Honorable Mention, the 30th Cinéma du réel International Documentary Film Festival
Stone Mountain (documentary, 2006)
Beautiful Men (documentary, 2005)
Award: Best Documentary from Asia, Pusan International Film Festival
Little Red Flowers (documentary, 2004)
Life in Beijing (short fictional film, 2003)
Under the Skyscraper (documentary, 2002)
Along the Railway (documentary, 2000)
Award: Special Mention, YAMAGATA International Documentary Film Festival