A Couple and a Temple

The documentary film "A Couple and a Temple" tells the story of Yang Liangen and his wife, the cultural guardian of Er'xian Temple in Xiaonan Village, Jincheng City, Shanxi Province. Er'xian is a unique local folk belief. In ancient times, a pair of sisters transformed into immortals to guard the peace of the place, and the people built this temple for them. Today, with a history of nearly 1,000 years, the Er'xian Temple has been a national cultural relic protection unit, and the protagonist and his wife have been living in the temple for years. In this film, you can learn about the real life of Chinese farmers and how local people keep their traditional customs.

  • Yujie Gao
  • Project Title (Original Language):
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Short, Student
  • Runtime:
    33 minutes 34 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    June 8, 2023
  • Production Budget:
    5,000 CNY
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    H.264 4K
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
    Yes - Tsinghua University
Director Biography - Yujie Gao

First-year master student, School of Journalism and Communication, Tsinghua University, China

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

This is my undergraduate graduation work, and it is also the first time for me to create a documentary independently. In December 2022, I returned to Jincheng City, Shanxi Province, my hometown where there is a splendid ancient architecture culture. After research, I found the most basic perspective - the cultural guardian in the temple of residence, to tell the story of ancient architecture.
After a hundred days of tracking and shooting, I finally chose to interweave the historical story of Erxian Temple, the life story of the close connection between the cultural guardian Yang Liangen and the temple, and the daily guarding of the temple of the old couple. For the temple, as the bearer of local religious beliefs, national key cultural relic protection units and cultural resources shared by the whole people, different positioning shows the tension of the protection and utilization of ancient architectural relics. For the couple, they guard the temple for half a lifetime. And at the same time, two goddess guard the place for a thousand years. The couple has lived in the temple for 26 years, and their old house in the village has been empty for 26 years. Where is "home" for them?
During the preliminary visit and research, I found that almost all the culture protectors are over 60 years old. As the first batch of culture protectors after the establishment of the national cultural relic security system, their personal life course has long been closely linked with ancient buildings, soil and the big events of the times. The meager subsidies and poor living conditions of them make it difficult for me to imagine what the next generation of "culture protectors" will be like, or even if there is. This is also the most important significance of this documentary, while establishing a biography for this group, trying to inspire more people's ideas and efforts for the future of cultural protection work.