Film Tells Story of Hope After 2008’s Deadly Wenchuan Earthquake

With health facilities reduced to rubble, more than 100 women were left with no choice but to deliver their babies at a Buddhist temple. “108” is the story of these new lives.

Even amid death and destruction, hope persists if you look hard enough. That’s the message one film is delivering at a time when the entire planet is in the throes of the worst pandemic in decades.

The Chinese movie “108” — or “Wonder in the Temple,” as it’s known in English — tells the story of more than 100 pregnant women who gave birth soon after a devastating earthquake in the southwestern Sichuan province 12 years ago. The magnitude 8 Wenchuan earthquake on May 12, 2008, left more than 80,000 people dead or missing. It flattened villages, including schools full of children, their collapses hastened by shoddy building materials.

Based on real-life stories, the film follows the women as they take shelter at a Buddhist temple in the county-level city of Shifang, where they then give birth to 108 children. With the earthquake causing severe damage to a local maternity hospital, where the women had been waiting to give birth, the temple was one of the few structures that remained more or less intact.

“After many lives passed away, there were newborns,” the film’s director, Kong Jiahuan, told Sixth Tone. “The number 108 is the collective memory we want to preserve. … The 108 lives brought hope to people who experienced tragedy.”

The birth of the 108 babies at the temple became a favorite story among the locals, as the number holds an auspicious significance in Buddhism.

“108” was filmed at the temple and its surrounding areas, and more than 90% of the extras in it survived the quake, according to Kong.

“We wanted to make a film that helped people see that we need to understand each other, support each other in times of crisis,” he said. “For me, those who have experienced (the earthquake) must have different feelings… so using ordinary people as actors can preserve these sincerest emotions.” Continue to read the full article here.


– This article originally appeared on Sixth Tone.