Tuesday 18, 2:00 pm – 4:10 pm
13-year-old Wei Minzhi, who can barely read or write herself, is chosen to take over her impoverished village’s one-room schoolhouse when its sole teacher must suddenly leave for one month to care for his ailing mother. Minzhi is promised extra money to ensure all the students are still there when he gets back, but one goes missing, and she must do everything she can to get him back.
Not One Less ( 一个都不能少 | Yīgè dōu bùnéng shǎo) is a 1999 drama film by Chinese director Zhang Yimou, adapted from Shi Xiangsheng’s 1997 story A Sun in the Sky 天上有个太阳.
In a remote mountain village, the local teacher must leave for a month, and the mayor can find only a 13-year old girl, Wei Minzhi, to substitute. The teacher leaves one stick of chalk for each day and promises her an extra 10 yuan if there’s not one less student when he returns.
Within days, poverty forces the class troublemaker, Zhang Huike, to leave for the city to work. The stubborn Minzhi is determined to bring him back. She enlists the 26 remaining pupils in earning money for her trip. She hitches to Jiangjiakou City and begins her search. The boy, meanwhile, is there, lost and begging for food. Minzhi’s resolve may be Huike and the village school’s salvation.
Watch the trailer
Not One Less earns its emotional payoff the hard way. It may be the greatest film ever made about obstinacy, which it reveals to be not only a virtue, but also a species of grace.