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Shun Li and the Poet

Shun Li and the Poet Canadian Premiere

"Rapturous…Exquisite…Delicate…Atmospheric…The universal power of poetry." - Guy Lodge, Variety

  • Italy • 2011 • 98 mins • Drama
  • Director: Andrea Segre
  • Production: Francesco Bonsembiante For Jolefilm (Italy), Francesca Feder For Aeternam Films (France), Rai Cinemas, Arte France Cinema
  • Language: Italian and Mandarin with English subtitles

Immigrant stories are seldom illustrated as well as Shun Li and the Poet, the first fiction film of Italian documentary filmmaker Andrea Segre. Played by Zhao Tao, the muse of China’s leading art film director Jia Zhang Ke, Shun Li works in a textile factory in Rome to pay off the broker that brought her from China to Italy while saving so her son can join her. Transferred to work as a bartender in a small fishing village along the Venetian lagoon, she encounters Bepi, a handsome Slav immigrant nicknamed “The Poet”. A delicate friendship quickly forms between them, but malicious gossip threatens the bond that was able to transcend two very different, yet not all too distant cultures.



2012Winner of Best Actress at the David Di Donatello Awards (Italy)Winner of the Best Feature Film Award, London BFI Film Festival2011Winner of the FEDIC Award, Venice Film Festival


About Andrea Segre (Director)

Shun-Li-and-the- Poet-filmmaker

Andrea Segre earned a PhD in Sociology, focusing on endangered social groups with an emphasis on immigration in Italy. He founded ZaLab, which “hosts participatory video and documentary workshops in intercultural contexts and geographically or socially marginalized situations.” Andrea’s first film, Lo sterminio dei Popoli Zingari (The Gypsy Extermination) was a documentary about the gypsies in Nazi concentration camps. He has since made several more documentaries that promote cross-cultural knowledge and understanding, including Pescatori a Chioggia (Fishermen in Chioggia), which helped inspire his first narrative film Shun Li and the Poet. His documentaries Include: Maghera CanaleNord (2003), Dio era un musicista (2004), PIP49 (2006.), etc..


Director Statement

About Zhao Tao (Shun Li)

Zhao Tao started out as a dancer, and is now an internationally renowned actress. She earned a degree in Chinese Folk Dance from the Beijing Dance Academy, and was teaching at Taiyuan Normal College when she was discovered by China’s leading art film director, Jia Zhang Ke, She soon became his muse, starring in several of his films including Still Life, winner of the Golden Lion at the Venice International Film Festival. Zhao and Jia married in 2012. Zhao won the David di Donatello Award (the Italian Oscar) for Best Actress for her starring role in Shun Li and the Poet.


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