Like Li's previous film, Blind Shaft, which dealt with the notoriously dangerous mining industry, Blind Mountain turns a sharply critical eye towards another one of China's continuing social problems, this time the illegal sex slave trade.
Prior to its release, Blind Mountain suffered from nearly 20 state-imposed cuts. This was done in order for the film to be allowed into the Un certain regard competition at Cannes by Chinese officials, as several of the cuts were of scenes that were critical of certain aspects of Chinese society. The Chinese Film Bureau policy also led to Li filming several alternate versions of the film's ending including a more upbeat one specifically for a possible video or dvd release in China.
While the audience at Cannes gave a standing ovation to the film when it was screened, the critics have have thus far been mixed in their reaction towards the film. Ray Bennett of The Hollywood Reporter, for example, is generous in his praise of the film's social message and visual beauty, claiming that the Li "draws wonderful performances from a cast that includes local amateurs and professionals, including the utterly credible Huang Lu." In contrast, Derek Elley of Variety was far more subdued in his reaction, and in particular criticizes the film's thin story and poorly drawn characters, such that "there's little emotional underpinning to the rote story." What both critics agreed was above par, however, was the photography of the Taiwanese cinematographer Lin Jong. Other critics expressed sentiments similar to Elley, but nevertheless found the performances effective, particularly by the lead actress.
On April 19, 2008, Blind Mountain won the Council of Europe Film Award (FACE), which is presented at the Istanbul International Film Festival by the Council of Europe to a film that raises public awareness and interest in human rights issues and promotes a better understanding of their significance.
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