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The Chinese Botanist's Daughters

French-language film poster
Directed by Dai Sijie
Produced by Lise Fayolles
Written by Dai Sijie
Nadine Perront
Starring Mylène Jampanoï
Li Xiaoran
Music by Eric Levi
Cinematography Guy Dufaux
Editing by Dominique Fortin
Distributed by France:
Europa Corp.
Release date(s) France:
April 26, 2006
Running time 105 minutes
Country France/Canada
Language Mandarin

Les filles du botaniste (Chinese: 植物园, Botanic Garden) is a French and Canadian film, with the background set as in China. It was released in 2006. Its English title is The Chinese Botanist's Daughters.


Plot summary

Set in China in the 1980s or 1990s, the film tells the story of, Li Ming, a young orphan of Tangshan earthquake, who leaves to study at the home of a renowned botanist. A secretive man and commanding father, he lives on an island that he has transformed into a luxurious garden. Anxious to share this solitary life, his daughter, An, welcomes with joy the arrival of the female student. Soon their friendship develops into a sensual, but forbidden attraction. Incapable of separating themselves, Ming and An create a dangerous arrangement to be able to continue spending their lives together: Ming marries An's brother, who is a PLA soldier and cannot bring his wife with him. However, An and Ming's relationship is observed by the botanist who thus gets a heart attack. Before he dies, he tells police that it's his daughter and daughter-in-law's homosexuality "disease" that kills him. Thus, An and Ming are sentenced to death by a court and executed.


Production details

  • Year: 2005
  • Date of release: 2006
  • Languages: Chinese
  • Filmed in Vietnam
  • Company: Europa


Due to the sensibility of the homosexuality subject, this movie was not allowed to be shot in China. It was shot in Vietnam instead (mainly in Ba Vi and Ha Tay) to create a similar environment. The film is full of stereotype oriental images, like firecracker and juggling performance along a foggy river, instead of in the middle of a village.

Mylène Jampanoï was criticized as "could not perform".

The death sentence of Ming and An was considered impossible, since although homosexuality has been discriminated against in China, people are not executed for it. The judge's verdict reasoning "Due to their behavior, our country lost an excellent botanist, thus they must be punished" is regarded as totally ridiculous.[1]

Awards and nominations

Montréal World Film Festival:

  • Best Artistic Contribution (Guy Dufaux, won)
  • People's Choice Award (Sijie Dai, won)
  • Grand Prix des Amériques (Sijie Dai, nominated)

Toronto Inside Out Lesbian and Gay Film and Video Festival:

  • Best Canadian Film or Video (Sijie Dai, won)


External links

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