A young woman (Zheng) marries for money after sordid rumors label her the town tramp, while her school-dropout brother (Huang) has resigned himself to the only paid gig left: the coal pits. But their father (Luo), his heart fixed on a lover who fled decades ago, offers a respite from the bleakness. An unflinching, unshakable portrait of rural Chinese life in a broken economy, The Shaft meditates on the indignities and resolve of a powerless working class. Yet hope springs eternal in unlikely places; the elder still dares to dream, even if his children can’t.
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