Dear Programmers,

Following its world premiere at Hot Docs, our new documentary Confucian Dream has been playing in festivals around the world. Please let me know if you'd like to consider it for a screening - I'm happy to send a link.

Marc Mauceri
First Run Features
212-243-0600 x20 |

Filmmaker Mijie Li's first feature (she co-produced Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert’s American Factory), Confucian Dream is an observational documentary about a Chinese woman's embrace of the ancient philosophy of Confucianism and how it affects her family.

Chaoyan, a young wife and mother, believes the ancient teachings of Confucianism will restore balance, respect and morality to her home. She involves her four-year-old son in the rigorous routine of chanting daily mantras. Little Chen may not yet understand the recitations' meanings, but mom is confident she's planting a seed for the future.

Chaoyan's husband finds the daily practice excessive, and indeed many Chinese people today criticize it as feudalistic, conservative, and counter-revolutionary. While Confucianism's primary purpose is to instill peace and harmony, the opposite occurs between Chaoyan and her husband as their beliefs clash and their arguments escalate, bringing forth a gripping portrait of marital and parental crisis.

Select Film Festivals

Hot Docs Canadian International Film Festival

Karlovy Vary International Film Festival

WINNER: Special Jury Prize - Documentary Competition
Antenna Documentary Film Festival

Los Angeles Chinese Film Festival
WINNER: Independent Spirit Award

Les Écrans de Chine
WINNER: Grand Prix China Screen d’Or

Haifa International Film Festival

West Lake International Documentary Festival (Hangzhou, China)

Minsk International Film Festival
From Director Mijie Li

How can we truly connect to the wisdom of the past when we try to apply it to the present? How do we find happiness, harmony, and find fulfillment? Is balance something to be arrived at, or continually negotiated throughout one’s life? These are questions that all of us continually ask ourselves.

Living in China, I spent 16 years going through an education system of which our primary focus was to get a good job and have a comfortable life. Most children growing up in China live under the expectant eyes of their teachers, and parents. I began to feel distant from my parents, weary of their focus on my achievements.

I became interested in families who have sought out spiritual practices like Confucianism to supplement their modern lifestyles. I reached out to 14 schools and interviewed 124 families, with parents eager to find schools that will shape their children into moral people, before shaping them into successful people. It feels relevant now, given the rapid development of China. While we remain proud of our country’s economic growth and material prosperity, it seems like we expect our individual lives to reflect that narrative too. The resulting mentality prioritizes achievements, even at the expense of one’s ethics and relationships.

However many parents don’t fully understand Confucian philosophy and its learning methods, which has not been widely observed in Chinese society for over a hundred years. Some see it as feudalistic, conservative, and counter-revolutionary. The revivalist movement faces an uphill battle in trying to integrate Confucian practices and traditions into communities let alone their households.

I saw eye-to-eye with these parents when it came to their overarching objectives and these core values. Yet, I was not completely convinced that these groups had found the right answer. While the story may at first glance seem like a black-and-white clash between past and present, I found that a number of these traditionalist parents embodied this clash within themselves, and became their own roadblocks in their journeys. In Confucian Dream I wanted to show one young mother struggling with them all.

For a screening link and more information please contact Marc Mauceri

212-243-0600 ext. 20 |

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