Another flick shines light on problems faced by the elderly

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"But only a few films feature this group and talk about their problems," says Wang.

Calling the loneliness experienced by the elderly "a dilemma" for them as well as their adult children, Wang says that economic stresses and the fast pace of big cities force people to work and ignore their parents.

Meanwhile, despite its serious theme, the film also has its light moments. For instance, in one scene Mr Sheng sleepwalks to Mianhua's bed, scarring her, but his mumbling about his love for his deceased wife touches the latter.

In the film, Sheng is played by 80-year-old actor Wang Deshun, known for the fantasy hit Miss Granny. Mianhua is played by award-winning actress Yan Bingyan, hailed as an "indie movie goddess".

So far, the film, which has been released at several movie festivals, has garnered many accolades, both at home and abroad.

At the 19th Shanghai International Film Festival in May, the film bagged four awards, including best actress and best newbie director.

In September, the film won the best screenplay award at the 1st Italy China Film Festival.

But despite the critical acclaim, most such films struggle to make it commercially.

The late director, Wu Tianming's Song of Phoenix, a film based on a suona (a Chinese double-reed woodwind instrument) player had to rely on producer Fang Li's sensational "kowtow" to win more screenings.

Then, there was the Berlin International Film Festival's Silver Bear-winning Crosscurrent, which raked in only 200,000 yuan ($29,500) at the box office at its premiere, while most commercial hits easily surpass 10 million yuan on the first day.

But despite the dark clouds looming for art-house films and the view that "it is the best era for films, but also the worst time for art-house titles", the cast of the movie believe a good tale can succeed at the box office.

As Yan says: "I still believe art-house films have their charm."

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