In southern China, a young man named Lin Hao (Zijiang Yang) has killed his lover. He flees northward, across the countryside, toward what he believes to be sanctuary: the tiny, legendary village of Mohe, located on the quiet border between China and Russia, where the Northern Lights cut across the sky during long winter nights.
Meanwhile, in Beijing, a screenwriter (played by Hui Rao, who co-wrote How Is Your Fish Today? with director Xiaolu Guo) is narrating Lin Hao’s story. As the journey unfolds on screen, Hui Rao — one of those “ordinary people trying to escape their boring lives” — reveals his own tedium and dissatisfaction. Through his characters, his life gains meaning. Rao questions Lin Hao’s motivations for escape, yet is drawn to Mohe himself.
In Mohe, elderly residents fish under the ice, schoolchildren study English texts about America and villagers endure the long winter nights waiting for the sun to come back. Two men contemplate the icy landscape, one wanting to cross the border to see the other side of the world, the other longing to head back to his hometown. As Xiaolu Guo explains, the film “would start and end in landscapes, urban scenery contrasting with village images and inner landscape conflicting with social landscape. We should see a scriptwriter’s inner world drowned and reshaped by the randomness and accidents of reality.... Everything is about fantasy invading reality, or reality breaking into fantasy.”
Blurring the lines between the real and the imaginary and between fictional and documentary filmmaking, How Is Your Fish Today? is a thought-provoking and uncommonly beautiful inquiry into the uses and possibilities of narrative.
- Xiaolu GuoProducer/Director