The film recounts the harrowing suffering of the imprisoned men and women in a forced labor camp in the Gobi Desert called Jiabiangou during the winter of 1960-1961. It focuses on their harsh life, how they coped with physical exhaustion, extreme cold, starvation and death on a daily basis.
The background to the setting is Mao Zedong’s disastrous Hundred Flowers Campaign from 1956–57, during which Chinese intellectuals were advised to contribute theiropinions on national policy issues. During the campaign, thousands of citizens were branded “right-wing deviants” for their criticism of the Communist Party and were sentenced to forced labor to be re-educated.
~~ The film based on Goodbye Jiabiangou (Woman from Shanghai: Tales of Survival from a Chinese Labor Camp), a book by Yang Xianhui.