by Zou Jing

Next Step 2023

China, France

Feature Film

A Girl Unknown depicts a young Chinese woman from the age of six through to her thirties, living in three different families. It tells the story of entire generations of abandoned girls in China from the 1980s to the 2000s. It is also an intimate coming-of-age story that explores existential pain, self-discovery, and how one learns to love. 

After Lili Alone, a violent, yet strangely gentle film, Zou Jing follows through on her thorough investigation of Chinese society. She addresses what remains to this day a sensitive topic in the country: the predicament of girls abandoned by their family. The devastating consequences of the country’s one-child policy, which reached its peak in the 1980s and 1990s, remain a sad reality for countless families. Drawing from her personal experience, Zou Jing offers a reserved portrayal of psychological and emotional scars resulting from such trauma through three distinct chapters of her protagonist’s life. In this realistic, minimalistic film, in which emotions are expressed with utmost restraint, Zou Jing gracefully explores the truths hidden in this chapter of Chinese history.