Set in Inner Mongolia in the 1980s, when China launched economic development programs that resulted in widespread clear-cutting (essentially mass destruction by chainsaw), this is a breathtakingly beautiful debut with a romance at its heart and an environmental message in its soul. A simple yet epic cautionary tale, Anima focuses on two Evenki tribe brothers and their rivalry over one very resourceful widow; but it is really about the death of their traditional way of life, and of our planet. Unfolding in mostly frigid, austere locales, with cinematography by the brilliant Mark Lee Ping-bing (In the Mood for Love), writer-director Cao Jinling’s film highlights the mystical, life-sustaining bond between humans and nature, and mourns its impending loss.

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