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An unfinished film

An unfinished film

An Unfinished Film by Ye Lou

Written by Lou and Yingli Ma. Screened in a special session at the Cannes Film Festival.



January 2020.

A film crew gathers in a hotel near Wuhan to resume the production of a film interrupted ten years earlier.

As rumors spread about a strange illness, the crew is confined with their screens as their only contact with the outside world.


An unfinished film



It’s nighttime. In 2019, Ye Lou and his team attempt to restart a computer that has been off for ten years.

When it powers up, Ye Lou rediscovers the rushes of a film he never finished due to lack of funding.

This film tells a love story between two young boys. The Chinese government will never allow its release.

In January 2020, Ye Lou, after difficult negotiations with the lead actor, who is about to become a father, gets the film back into production.

But as filming begins, and everyone is settled in the same hotel near Wuhan, the Covid outbreak starts.

The police violently suppress those trying to leave the hotel. Everyone is confined there.

The Importance of Screens in “An unfinished film”

From the footage shot over several years, Ye Lou has reconstructed his experience and that of his team.

He shows their isolation confronting  the system’s violence imposed by the Chinese government. It also reminds us of the importance of phones as the only means of contact with loved ones whom we could not touch.

A great film about freedom, both sexual and individual, An Unfinished Film also highlights the importance for a director/ or an artist to finish what he has started.

“We wanted to focus on what making and creating a film is, rather than spending our time dealing with censorship.” (source: “Trois couleurs”)

But while cinema—finishing a film—is the most important thing for the director, it is different for his team, for whom family and friends are their reason for living.

According to an interview with “Trois couleurs”, An Unfinished Film is in the process of color grading, and he is also working on three projects.

And according to co-producer Philippe Bober, this is his “most personal” film, shot in the style of “an intellectual’s diary.”

About the Director Ye Lou

In 2006, he presented Summer Palace in Competition without the regime’s authorization.

The film breaks taboos about both sexuality and the events of Tiananmen—though off-screen—and resulted in a five-year ban on filmmaking.

The director had to use cunning for his subsequent films: Spring Fever, a story of a love triangle, and Love and Bruises, filmed in France, starring Corinne Yam and Tahar Rahim.

His last notable appearance at Cannes was with Mystery in the Un Certain Regard section in 2012.



To be seen at the end of May at MK2 theaters.

About the Cannes Film Festival 


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