Wangdrak’s Rain Boots
Directed by Lhapal Gyal
Values Culture Media (CN), Youth Film Studio (CN), Qinghai Kawajian Film & Culture Dissemination (CN)
China, 2018, 1 hour, 30 minutes
Tibetan with English subtitles
Trailer can be viewed here.
Available at this year’s Hong Kong International Film Festival is the delightful film, Wangdrak’s Rain Boots. The Tibetan film that was based on a novella of the same name—which was actually much shorter than the film—was directed by Lhapal Gyal. This talented gentleman was the assistant director for Knife in the Clear Water; Wangdrak’s Rain Boots is his debut feature film. Critics are keeping an eye on this fresh talent and excited to see what he’ll come up with next.
The film is shot beautifully, showing off stretches of farmland across Tibet. The main children in the movie, Wangdrak and his friend Lhamo, are played by first-time actors and give outstanding performances. According to the director, who was interviewed after the screening, these two children are originally from the agricultural area of Tibet, which helps explain why they thrived well in their roles.
The story is told engagingly as it, step by step, unfolds for the audience. It begins with Wangdrak’s need for rain boots. Growing up in the Tibetan countryside, rainy season can become quite treacherous for children who walk long roads to school filled with puddles, slippery slopes, and rocks.
A lack of rain boots soon leads to Wangdrak being ostracized by his schoolmates. Bullying by the children leads to issues with Wangdrak and his teacher. Tension at school leads to tension at home with his father, who believes that rain boots are not a real necessity for his son. Tension between father and son leads to tension between father and mother as she defends her son.
The story continues to unfold. An angry and stubborn father who is overprotective of his crops rages at his family and begins to pick fights with neighbors. Compounding his frustration with the village, Wangdrak’s father also trys to sway the “god of rain” to hold off so he can harvest his yield.
At the same time, Wangdrak finally gets his rain boots but now has no rain in which to wear them. The little boy pleads with the “god of rain” to bring a storm, which naturally conflicts with his father's request.
It’s a simple story. The selfishness of a father who puts his own ambition ahead of the needs of his family is at last, up against the selfishness of his own son who chooses his own wants over his family’s welfare.
For a glimpse of Tibet, for a good story about childhood struggles and a precious friendship, or just for the opportunity to see how something as simple as rain can turn a town upside down, this is a worthy watch.
Keep an eye out at a film festival near you.
Hannah Lau is a marketing consultant for ChinaSource, managing external communication and marketing processes including social media. Originally from Canada, Hannah served for a time in China where she began her career in advertising. A few years ago she left the corporate sector and took her skills to the non-profit... View Full Bio