Fotile, a kitchen appliance manufacturer that specializes in buiit-in ranges and hoods, created a suspenseful and moving short film rooted in real life for this year’s Mid-Autumn Festival. (See our previous Mid-Autumn brand film pick and case study.) The release of the film also coincided with Teacher’s Day in China on September 13.
The eight-minute film, “Light and Darkness” (光明村), is set in a land of perennial darkness where the laughter of children produces electricity and keeps the lights on, protecting against unseen creatures that threaten to approach whenever sadness prevails. A lone teacher looks after a class full of “left-behind children” whose parents have gone to cities to find work. Naturally, the children become sad when they think of their parents, and the teacher must work hard to keep them laughing with jokes, songs, and silly costumes. He eventually runs out of jokes but finds a new way to make them happy: by cooking their favorite dishes from home. But, in a plot twist, even this plan goes awry. As darkness descends, the children save the day and the lights come back on, with the brighter full moon of the Mid-Autumn Festival rising over them all.
An epilogue shows the inspiration for the story in the real-world Huangni Primary School in southwest China, where the principal cooked meals daily with the 25 left-behind children who lived at the school. We learn that Fotile supplied the school with a new kitchen to replace the rustic outdoor stove previously used.
Directed by Liao Yiyuan with New Studios Media, the film offers a modern allegory. The threatening creatures represent the sadness and psychological damage suffered by left-behind children, while laughter and joy are forces that can help them to adapt to the challenges. The brightness of the moon at the end may stand for both the teacher’s care and Fotile’s social awareness.