Title: Not One Less
Director: Zhang Yimou
Original Release: 1999
My Overall Rating: 3 stars out of 5
The Chinese film Not One Less is a fictional account of a 13-years-young substitute teacher trying to hold onto all of her 28 pupils while their regular teacher is away for a month. When one of her charges leaves the rural village to find work in the city, Teacher Wei goes after him. Her search feels a bit like an anxiety dream at times but the culmination is predictably inspiring.
In order to preserve a strong sense of reality, Zhang cast the parts with amateur actors whose real-life jobs reflected their characters. The man playing the town mayor truly is the mayor of a small village, the TV show host really is a TV show host and so forth. The film coincided with a strong push by the Chinese government towards education reform. Government censors oversaw production closely so nothing in the film is overly critical. The film suffered on the international festival circuit for its perceived political leanings but still did pretty well, winning The Venice Film Festival's Golden Lion among other accolades.