YANG, an idealistic schoolteacher, is on a mission to stop the slaughtering of dogs in provinces where canine consumption is glorified as a cultural tradition. While a contentious animal protection law makes its way through the courts, she investigates with steely determination why countless pets are disappearing from their homes.
YANG AI YUN, a retired schoolteacher turned firebrand activist, lays her life on the line to expose a nationwide theft ring that sends thousands of stolen pets to slaughterhouses. An undercover investigation leads her to the man behind the criminal enterprise - a well-respected entrepreneur. Meanwhile, activists allied with pet owners pressure officials to enact China’s first animal protection law. Their efforts are met with resistance from a powerful business lobby. Events culminate in a showdown inside a province bordering Vietnam, when poachers catch wind of Yang's animal sanctuary. With law enforcement turning a blind eye, they plan an ambush in broad daylight.
This is a David and Goliath story about a woman on a mission to protect the most vulnerable animal population. The central conflict relates to cultural traditions that have persisted for generations and a female trailblazer determined to change them. The protagonist views justice as equality for all, human and nonhuman, a cause to which she has dedicated her life. Filming for MILES TO GO BEFORE SHE SLEEPS began in 2014, when I became the first filmmaker to visit Yang’s animal sanctuary outside Tianjin. This unique access lays the foundation for a complex character study of Yang - a fearless activist to some and a woman driven to isolation to others. Yet her singular pursuit of animal justice captures the fighting spirit of our times - independent yet uncompromising, relentless yet world-weary.
Director Mijie Li
Originally from Hunan, China, Mijie Li served as co-producer on the Sundance and Oscar-winning documentary, AMERICAN FACTORY. Her debut feature CONFUCIAN DREAM premiered at Hot Docs in 2019 and went on to win the Special Jury Prize at Karlovy Vary and the Independent Spirit Award at Los Angeles Chinese Film Festival, before taking home the top prize for global impact at Guangzhou International Documentary Film Festival. MILES TO GO BEFORE SHE SLEEPS is her second feature.
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