Not One Less


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Time Out says

The 1999 Golden Lion winner at Venice (after being denied a competition slot at Cannes), Zhang's film is a real audience pleaser. Shot in his vérité style, on real locations and using non-professionals, it tells of a 13-year-old substitute teacher drafted in to take over at a village school in the mountains, despite her obvious lack of qualifications. Promised a bonus if she keeps her class numbers up for a month, she determines to retrieve one pupil when he disappears to work in the city. The result is funny, heartwarming, and, frankly, sentimental - but it's not without some steel in its depiction of poverty and persistence. A pity Columbia insisted on a mawkish end-title card to ram the point home.


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Release details

UK release:



102 mins

Cast and crew


Zhang Yimou


Li Fanfan, Feng Yuying, Sun Zhimei, Gao Enman, Tian Zhenda, Zhang Huike, Wei Minzhi, Xu Zhanqing


San Bao

Production Designer:

Cao Jiuping


Zhai Ru


Hou Yong


Shi Xiangsheng


Zhao Yu

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Average User Rating

3.8 / 5

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1 person listening

I loved this simple heart-warming tale of the young(13) substitute teacher who deputises while the teacher takes a month's vacation in a rural village school. It's so moving and effective.The young girl has been promised a bonus if she keeps the class of kids until he comes back on top of the 50 yuan.She does her level best but one gets away.Her wait outside the gates in the big town to see the station master and her long search move one to tears.The ending is a little piece of Chinese propaganda,but it doesn't spoil the film.