Project Description

Length: 10mins08secs

Director: Bradley Thornhill


The village of ZhanLi has had almost zero change in population size since 1959. In order to maintain a stable population and successfully manage their limited resources, each family in the village vows to have a maximum of only two children, one boy and one girl. This ability to determine the sex of children is unique to this Dong village, and depends solely on a secret herb: Huanhua Cao. The secret of the herb is closely guarded by the village’s Medicine Master, who prescribes her herbal potion to expecting parents in order to ensure that the sex of their second and final child differs from that of the first. This film investigates the phenomenon of population control and fertility within the context of ZhanLi’s long history of family planning, exploring the myth of the mysterious medicine and its secretive master.