For the third straight year, Apple is marking China’s biggest holiday with a touching film shot through the lens of the latest generation iPhone. As with many of the most impactful brand films seen in China, Apple’s “Daughter” (女儿) doesn’t shy away from tackling complex social issues head-on. Intergenerational love and conflict, changing social norms, and working class struggles are all shot with professional technique to tear-jerking effect.
This year’s film departs from the tradition of hiring Chinese directors to tell stories that are deeply tied to the Spring Festival. For “Daughter,” Apple tapped Academy Award nominee Theodore Melfi, along with “Joker” cinematographer Laurence Sher, who worked exclusively with iPhone 11 Pros.
Zhou Xun, one of China’s most popular actresses, plays a cab-driving single mother scorned for bringing her young daughter to work with her, including by her own mother. Yet the child sees the world in a light-hearted manner, bringing humor and joy to the passengers she encounters as she rides along in her booster seat with her “magic telescope” transforming the world around her.
Mother and daughter are busy as the Lunar New Year approaches, working through the celebrations of the eve, which is tinged with sadness given the ongoing separation between the nameless driver and her mother during a time for family reunions. As in Apple’s 2019 holiday movie, Jia Zhangke’s “Bucket” (一个桶), cultural traditions around food also play a central and poignant role.
At eight minutes, Melfi’s film is the longest of Apple’s holiday offerings to date, but also tells the most complete story. As in previous films, the iPhone brand is mentioned only via a note in the opening credits, signaling to viewers the professional movie-making capabilities of the device and setting the stage to send a strong brand message.
Apple debuted the film at an event in its Shanghai store, with Melfi and Sher in attendance for a Q&A session. Apple also released a behind-the-scenes video on the making of “Daughter,” highlighting how the iPhone 11 Pro’s many features were used and sharing the director’s and cinematographer’s thoughts on working with such a small device.