• Suburban Birds

Suburban Birds

a film by Qiu Sheng
2019, 113 minutes



A striking debut from China’s Qiu Sheng, SUBURBAN BIRDS is a tantalizing mystery and a bittersweet coming-of-age comedy rolled into one. Hao (Mason Lee) is part of a team of young engineers called in to investigate a series of craters that have opened up on the edge of the city. As he and his team survey the subsiding area, another story is taking place in the same suburban landscape. A younger boy, also named Hao, spends long afternoons playing with friends and making mischief until one-by-one, his playmates start to disappear. As these parallel stories unfold, the connections between them proliferate and grow stranger.

With virtuosic assurance, Qiu employs distinct styles for each of the two narrative strands and unites them with a wry and wistful sense of humor. SUBURBAN BIRDS is both a reflection on the slippery nature of memory as well as a comment on China’s rapid urbanization that heralds the arrival of an exciting new voice.


Critic's Pick! "A spectacular directing debut... Its observations on the expanding cityscapes of China recall the work of Jia Zhangke, while its near-mystical quietude has accents one recognizes in the films of Apichatpong Weerasethakul."
- Glenn Kenny , The New York Times

"So good—and delightfully kinked—that it’s well worth catching now (and watching twice)."
- Manohla Dargis, The New York Times

"Qiu Sheng's intriguing, adept debut feature...marks his voice as one worth listening to."
- The Film Stage

"Suburban Birds is a rewarding and revelatory first feature from a fresh artistic voice."
- Andrew Bundy, The Playlist

"Qiu Sheng's stylish debut feature is a seductively inscrutable puzzler."
- Guy Lodge, Variety

"'Stand by Me' meets Kafka's 'The Castle.'"
- Leslie Felperin, The Hollywood Reporter

"Qiu's directorial touch is remarkably gentle... he avoids schematic logic in favor of a light mystery of unity, seeking quiet depth beyond sensory perception."
- Chloe Lizotte, Film Comment

Press Materials

High-Res Stills, Poster and Press Kit
Press Release

Where to watch

Now in Theaters


Jun 7-13: Facets - Chicago, IL

Jul 25-31: The Cinematheque - Vancouver, BC

Aug 4: Alamo Drafthouse - Winchester, VA
Aug 23-25: Webster Film Series - St. Louis, MO

Festivals & Awards

Official Selection - Locarno Film Festival
Official Selection - New Directors / New Films


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