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Q&A with Zhang Ji
When Detective Shu investigates a serial murder cold case in which cab drivers were targeted, he reunites with his long-lost childhood friend Fei and is pulled dramatically into dark layers of memory. Growing up, Shu and Fei display different rebellious teen tendencies and traverse different paths: Shu becomes a regular at the police station for street fighting, whereas Fei is tired of her feelings of hopelessness and longs to start a new life in a southern city. As the romantic tension between the two grows, Fei convinces Shu to run away with her but before fleeing they promise to celebrate Christmas by setting a fire together, which leads to a series of unexpected occurrences with tragic results. Through the lens of two-generation vicissitudes, Fire on the Plain paints a powerful picture of China’s industrial northeast in the 1990s, a period that seems both recent and distant.