Director Ning Hao has embraced the road movie genre, saying at the premiere of his "Breakup Buddies" at the Toronto film festival Sunday that it is a natural fit for recently car culture-gripped China.
Ning, who broke Chinese box office records in 2006 with his low-budget black comedy "Crazy Stone", said through a translator at a press conference: "Road movies are quite traditional but they provide (audiences) with different perspectives and aspects, that's why I like the genre to tell stories."
"Because of economic development in China, car culture has become important in the daily lives of Chinese and that's why it's possible to make a road movie now," he said.
In the film, Geng Hao (played by Huang Bo) is heartbroken after his wife left him.
He drinks to dull the pain, ending up in a hospital where he is rescued by his best friend Hao Yi (Xu Zheng). Hao proposes a road trip to meet women that he hopes will cheer up his depressed friend.
Together they drive from Beijing to Shangri-La to Dali in southwestern China, running into one absurd situation after another.
"In China's past, the transportation network served largely an agricultural society," Ning notes.
"But in modern China roads and the transportation system have been hugely influenced by (industrialized) North America and Russia, so these two transportation systems (old and new) have come into conflict."
He said he feels "that in China now you can't live without a car almost."