Set in contemporary China,The Cremator is a daring and compelling drama about a cremator’s life. Cao, in his fifties, works in a remote crematorium. Outwardly he is an ordinary cremation worker, but he secretly runs a sideline business as a ‘ghost matchmaker’. Taking advantage of his work, Caoconducts a clandestine trade in ghost wives; he conceals women’s bodies which are brought in with no-name and, together with his partner Xie, sells them to make a profit. When Cao is diagnosed with lung cancer he doesn’t want to leave the world with his biggest regret -he is still single. So he selects a “ghost wife” for himself among those nameless women’s corpses. He conceals the body from Xie and plans to be buried together with his ‘bride’ after his death. When Cao prepares to take the nameless woman’s corpse home, he is suddenly confronted by Chen Xiangju, the dead woman’s young sister, who has come to crematorium in search of her sister. When Chen Xiangju discovers her sister is dead and will become the “ghost wife” of Cao, she finds herself in the midst of a morbid dilemma.
This film is based on real news coverage. In rural areas of several provinces in northern China, including Shandong, Hebei and Shanxi, the custom of ‘Ghost Marriages’ lingers on and has become more sophisticated. However, finding a ‘ghost wife’ is not easy. The practice of pouring a handful of soil into an empty coffin is used to represent a ‘ghost wife’accompanying the dead bachelor, but in recent year people are no longer content to use such symbolic methods. The once symbolic ‘ghost wife’ has gradually, over the years, become as real woman – a dead woman’s body. This surging demand boosts the market of stealing and selling corpses. Driven by financial gain, a number of professional ‘ghost matchmakers’ have setup business. As the custom gains in popularity, dealing in ‘corpse brides’ appears lucrative indeed.
2012 Cross Road (In Development)
2012 The Cremator
2009 Floating in Memory
2007 Little Moth
37th Toronto International Film Festival
(Contemporary World Cinema)
17th Busan International Film Festival
(A Window on Asian Cinema)
49th Taipei Golden Horse International Film Festival
36th Göteborg international film festival
37th Hong Kong International Film Festival
9th CIFF China Independent Film Festival,
The Jury Award
A graduated from the Beijing Film Academy, Peng Tao wrote and directed his first feature film Little Moth in 2007. It has been screened at more than 50 international film festivals and received 15 international awards, including the NETPAC Award at the 60th Locarno International Film Festival, the Golden Pyramid Award in the International Competition for Feature Digital Films section at the 31st Cairo International Film Festival and the Silver Digital Award in the Asian Digital Competition section at the 32nd Hong Kong International Film Festival.
His second feature, Floating in Memory, was developed in 2009 with the assistance of the Sundance Institute Feature Film Program. It was produced with financial support of the Hubert Bals Fund and was screened in theVPRO Tiger Awards Competition at the 38th Rotterdam International Film Festival.
His latest film,The Cremator, had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2012. It was also screened at the Busan International Film Festival, Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival and the Hong Kong International Film Festival.
Of course, this is not a documentary film of this emergent underworld. The material has been cut across and restructured. Real life is fancied and sublimated into art. The film takes these event as its inspiration and as an opening for a realistic portrayal of the plight of the contemporary China’s under class. It is a film about their stories, their ideas and their world. This bitter-sweet tale reflects some aspects of the living conditions and mental outlook of those struggling to make end meet in contemporary China.