Hu Bo: A Director Miss MIFF Because of Suicide

On February, 2018, the film ‘An Elephant Sitting Still’ held its world premiere in Berlin. It was praised as ‘visually stunning and meticulously portraying a selfish society’ and awarded the FIPRESCI Prize by the official group. The Berlin Film Festival awarded the honor to the young director, the jury praised: ‘Master narrative’, and the audience was convinced by his boldness and profoundness.

But it’s all too late. On the podium, only the flowers and applause, the protagonist’s position is empty.


Six months later, this film came to MIFF. I could not wait myself to watch this master piece. ‘An Elephant Sitting Still’ lasted nearly 4 hours, and total 300 spectators at the scene did not leave at halfway. However, one person can not see it anymore. About four months ago, Hu Bo, the director of ‘The Elephant Sitting Still’ killed himself in Beijing, only 29 years old. ‘The Elephant Sitting Still’ is both his first feature film and his last film. Many people know the name ‘Hu Bo’ for the first time through his suicide. He quickly became a symbol of young people who are not satisfied with current society.

The dead is gone, every suicide will leave secrets and legends, but the expression of anger in Hu Bo’s works is traced in the dilemmas that he has faced in his short life. Hu Bo fights all the way, using the words and  the image as a sword, struggling to kill the unfairness, bloody to open the darkness of social reality, stubbornly stick to the ideal position. But he eventually died in the darkness before dawn.

Why is there no position for Hu Bo in the world? Numerous commercial rotten films occupy the screen and earn a lot of money. The young director who really has ideas and attitudes is squeezed to the point of no survival.


‘You said that you have an artistic pursuit? Tell me about the ideal of film? Oh, you can’t make money for business, sorry!’ A web celebrity can make a living by her beautiful face with a monthly income of more than 100,000 yuan. However, a director who won the Berlin Film Festival award has an annual income of only 20,000 yuan.

In the movie ‘An Elephant Sitting Still’, the four protagonists who lived in poverty were on the road together, only to find the elephant that was sitting all day in Manzhouli. Perhaps for Hu Bo, the ideal is this elephant that does not exist, exudes a wonderful attraction. He broke his blood for this, but in the end it was just empty. Because in the profit-seeking society, talent and ideals are low in the dust, only real money is convincing. Is that reality?

When I walked into the cinema, the host was on the stage asking the audience to help find out if there were spare seats around until all the seats were filled. Seeing the faces of excitement and expectations of other audiences, I feel a little bit complicated. I don’t know if they know what a story is about to face, and what kind of sadness is behind it. There may be few such cases – the film festival should have been the most glorious moment of a director, the audience looked forward to it, and then showed respect and applause, but the director would miss it forever.

24 thoughts on “Hu Bo: A Director Miss MIFF Because of Suicide

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