Days Flow By

Chengdu, China | Film Feature

Drama

Ziyi Yuan

1 Campaigns | Illinois, United States

55 days :06 hrs :06 mins

Until Deadline

29 supporters | followers

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$3,005

Goal: $20,000 for production

Amidst urbanization in Sichuan Province, the last resident of a fading village, an old man, fights to preserve his old house and its heritage. Diagnosed with cancer, as his family returns to the village it reveals that his life is fading along with the old village in their memory.

About The Project

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Mission Statement

The greatest loss is not the aging old villages or the left-behind elderly, but the fading of people‘s empathy and sentiments toward them. Our film aims to capture the all-too-common story of those who are ignored and forgotten by society.

The Story

留守老人 (Liu Shou Lao Ren) is a term used to describe the rural left-behind elderly population that is ignored and forgotten by society. During the process of urbanization, their lives, homes, and villages slowly fade away as days pass, like a river quietly flowing by, leading to the creation of this film that captures these fleeting individuals' stories. The greatest loss is not the old villages or the left-behind elderly, but the fading of people‘s empathy and sentiments toward them.


Synopsis

During the sweeping tide of Chinese urbanization, an elderly man remains the last inhabitant of his once-thriving village, dedicated to preserving its original state. This tranquil life is disrupted when Yao Ye is diagnosed with stage 3 cancer and now his daughter, her husband, and other relatives, who have been long absent, are forced to return to the nearly-forgotten village to decide on what is to come for this Yao Ye. 


Amidst their struggles, the family members are now forced to reconcile with their modern, urban lives and with the fading traditions and memories of their rural past. Amidst their own struggles and discomforts, they wrestle with the weight of uncertainty, torn between hope and acceptance. As time flows, everyone’s memories of the old man slowly fade along with his village.

Background

Yao Ye (Old uncle) is a 留守老人 or Liu Shou Lao Ren which refers to the senior population that is left behind in society due to the rapid effects of Urbanization in China. This population of seniors is often neglected in society and is not given the necessary support as their children move to urban areas. Each year due to the development of their villages, over 250 million rural residents (40% of the whole rural population) move to urban areas. 


His village was part of a major dispute over a railway project (part of the Urbanization project) in 2015, in Linshui County, Sichuan Province, China. The authorities wanted to build a new railway line through a town called Linshui, even though there were already existing railways connecting nearby cities. However, it was announced that the development plans would not continue, and this caused a lot of anger and frustration among the local people. The decision led to the abandonment of the village as the railway would have increased the opportunity to be connected to the city. 


Currently, in 2024, this village has been completely abandoned as the last resident (old man) passed. The structures and buildings have already started to deteriorate and it is not sure how much longer they will stand.



As days flow by, they quietly fade away in society, just like a river silently flowing by.


There are still no railway lines to this village and the structures have started to crumble. The meaning of filmmaking lies exactly here: facing the passage of time, the only thing we can do is pick up our camera, document, capture, and do our best to preserve these fleeting and vulnerable things. We are fighting with time together! We want to shoot this film in August before the village completely collapses. This film captures the essence of a disappearing way of life, highlighting the strength and determination of those who strive to hold onto their roots amidst change. 


Inspired by the expressive power of cinema and a profound belief in its capacity to reflect human resilience, 'Days Flow By' is a narrative film that delves into the heart of a rural village in China facing the relentless tide of urbanization. Through the story of an elderly man fighting to preserve his home and heritage while battling cancer, the film explores themes of family, memory, and the passage of time. We aim to support the stories of all the other affected villages across China that are facing the same outcome. 


We cannot forever hold onto the ones we love, we cannot prevent the cherished memories from fading away in the erosion of time.

We are currently in our pre-production process and are planning to shoot in Lin Shui County, during mid-August for a 15-day location shoot.


Currently, our greatest need is to raise funds to acquire film equipments, hire talent and film crew, and lodging for our team to stay in this remote village. We are set to release this film in May 2025 through digital distribution, a private premiere screening, and film festivals. We plan to start the post-production process as soon as our shoot ends.


Meeting our goal of $20,000 will allow us to start creating "Days Flow By" before the village completely deteriorates. If we surpass our goal of $20,000, it would help pay our post-production crew and process. Your donation is greatly appreciated as we amplify the stories of 留守老人(Liu Shou Lao Ren). You can also help us by sharing our campaign and if you would like to stay updated on our project follow our Instagram.


Our $20,000 goal is the absolute minimum we need to raise for production. 

If we raise $21, 500, we'll be able to cover the costs of running our campaign!

If we raise $23, 000, we'll be able to cover editing costs!

If we raise $26, 000, we'll be able to pay for our sound design and mix!

If we raise $30, 000, we'll be able to cover film festival submissions and promotion!

Director’s statement

One of the documentaries I made four years ago inspired this story. One day, my mom took me back to an old village and town that I had never been to before. We went there because my late grandpa’s little brother had been diagnosed with stage 3 cancer. This old man is the last person who still stays in the old village, preserving the old house; he didn’t leave the house for his entire life. Because his family is so poor and unable to support his medical treatment, we went back to help them find a solution and assist his kids in making decisions. This documentary records the process of picking up my grandpa’s younger brother from the hospital and sending him back to the village because their families had run out of money. We stayed there for three to discuss whether we should pursue cancer chemotherapy or give up with other relatives. However, by the time we left, no solution had been reached, and no decision came out, because no one wanted to take on such a huge responsibility. When we left, nothing had changed, leaving this old man waiting for the end of his life in the village.


I didn’t get the chance to finish this documentary because I came to the US for my master's degree. But my mom went back, and she described the last time she saw this old man. He slept on a tiny bed next to a narrow window, with only a small beam of light coming in. He was extremely thin and frail, with his arms appearing to have only a paper-thin layer of skin covering his bones. He grabbed my mom’s arm and suddenly started crying so hard, but without making any noise. He said he was so afraid. He wasn't afraid of dying, but he was afraid of leaving this place.






Development: May 2023 - May 2024

Pre-Production: June 2024 - August 2024

Production: August 2024

Post-Production Start Date: September 2024 - May 2025

Film Festival and Distribution Date: May 2025



Thank You So Much For Your Support!!!


Thank you for taking the time to check out our crowdfund! Besides donating to our film, please FOLLOW us on Seed & Spark and our Instagram@days_flow_by_thesis. You can also help in supporting us by sharing our campaign through social media or with friends and family. With your help, we can make this film happen!


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Wishlist

Use the WishList to Pledge cash and Loan items - or - Make a pledge by selecting an Incentive directly.

Cash Pledge

Costs $0

Location

Costs $2,000

We will rent a house for the local elderly, who are left behind. This will help us film the old house in a more considerate manner.

Crew

Costs $5,000

Ensuring fair compensation for our talented crew is crucial for the success of our film production!

Cast

Costs $2,000

We will cast non-professional actors who are left in this old village, in the hopes that this will also help the people in this community.

Equipment Rental

Costs $5,000

This will enable us to make this film happen, both improving the quality of visual and auditory presentation!

Production Design

Costs $2,000

This will help us recycle some abandoned furniture in the old village, giving old furniture a new lease on life.

Catering and Craft Service

Costs $4,000

Delicious meals and snacks maintain the energy levels of our skilled cast and crew throughout the ten-day filming period!

About This Team

Ziyi Yuan (Director):

Ziyi Yuan (she/he, 23) is pursuing her MFA in Cinema and Television Directing at Columbia College Chicago, building upon her Bachelor’s degree in Theatre Film and TV Literature obtained from Beijing, China. Throughout the last two years, she has delved into a plethora of film projects, including short dramas, comedy shorts, experimental films, documentaries, TV series, and media installations. Her directing work has been shown in film festivals, achieving Semi-Finalist status at Flickers’ Rhode Island International Film Festival. Driven by a fervent passion for film, she has further honed her skills by working on IP development in LA, as a programmer at CineYouth, and at the Chicago International Film Festival. Everyone on set calls her nickname "Atomic Bomb" because she always shows her passion for film and never gets tired.


Alan Hu (Director of Photography):

Alan Hu graduated with an MFA in Cinematography from the Dodge College of Film and Media Arts at Chapman University, where he began to focus on narrative filmmaking. He has filmed documentaries in various regions and countries, including Thailand, Xinjiang, Kazakhstan, and Tajikistan. Besides, he studied under American Society of Cinematographers members Johnny E. Jensen and Bill Dill, and he excels at storytelling through visuals.


Cyril Zhong (Production Designer):

Born in Guangdong and now residing in Jiangsu and Zhejiang. He majored in Film Art and minored in Film Production. Having worked in fashion and interior decoration, he aspires to make films. Additionally, he serves as a judge and film selection consultant for domestic independent film festivals. His works have been selected for the Locarno International Film Festival, the Cannes Cinéfondation, the Rhode Island International Film Festival, the Macau International Movie Festival, the FIRST Youth Film Exhibition, the World Film Festival, IM Film Festival, and the Golden Rooster Youth Short Film Festival.


Zhengyang Duke (Camera Operator):

Du Zhengyang, born and raised in Shaanxi Province, graduated from Middle school attached to NPU in 2016 and Harbin Institute of Technology in 2020. Worked at FIRST International Film Festival in 2021 and left for Chapman University Dodge College of Film and Media Arts in the United States for academic study in the same year.


Winnie Liu (Composer):

Winnie is a Taiwanese media composer, sound designer, and multi-instrumentalist actively engaged in film, game, live theater, and pop music industry. Specializing in string and woodwind instruments and electronic synths, she supports visual media and stories with hybrid acoustic textures. She enjoys delving into psychology, cultures, and contemporary social topics by working on various creative formats such as film, theater, games, exhibitions, and experimental art. Winnie holds a BFA in Cello Performance from National Sun Yat-sen University and an MFA in Music Composition for the Screen from Columbia College Chicago.


Gabriel Kang (Producer):

With a Master of Arts & Entertainment Management degree, Gabriel has a background in project management in creative agencies and fundraising helping raise money for student scholarships in his college.


Eden George (Producer):

Having worked with Gabriel on the same projects, Eden also has an MA in Arts & Entertainment Management specializing in Marketing in the arts and event organization in NPOs.


Cameron Rosenthal (Producer):

Cameron is a business owner and a Graduate of Arts & Entertainment Management. She has worked on fundraising projects with the same team as Gabriel and Eden as an event producer and project manager.


Wenhan Zhang(Producer)

Wenhan Zhang is a Producer and Gaffer working both in Los Angeles and Chicago. Wenhan has been working on films such as Homeboy, Moon & Earth, and Dirty Little Secrets. Wenhan is excited to be on this project as the producer working with talented artists to create a film that can bring true art back to life. 

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