PRESS RELEASE: Still Tomorrow | Defying Social and Cultural Norms, a Rural Poet Captures a Nation’s Attention

Director:                                                                                         Jian Fan
Pursuing independence and love, without ever losing hope.
POV films have won 37 Emmy® Awards, 21 George Foster Peabody Awards, 12 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards, three Academy Awards®, the first-ever George Polk Documentary Film Award and the Prix Italia. The POV series has been honored with a Special News & Documentary Emmy Award for Excellence in Television Documentary Filmmaking, three IDA Awards for Best Curated Series and the National Association of Latino Independent Producers Award for Corporate Commitment to Diversity. Learn more at
Jian Fan, Director
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American Documentary, Inc. (AmDoc) is a multimedia company dedicated to creating, identifying and presenting contemporary stories that express opinions and perspectives rarely featured in mainstream media outlets. AmDoc is a catalyst for public culture, developing collaborative strategic engagement activities around socially relevant content on television, online and in community settings. These activities are designed to trigger action, from dialogue and feedback to educational opportunities and community participation.
The film constantly plumbs the dynamics of dichotomies: peace and labor, rural and urban, family support and independence. It opens with the tranquil landscape of a family farm paired with a captivating verse by Yu herself. The engine behind her sudden fame is particular to the 21st century: social media. In late 2014, a small collection of her work was published on a popular website. Due to numerous shares and posts, her poems went viral. That she has cerebral palsy makes her accomplishments all the more astonishing.
Executive Producers for POV:                                         Justine Nagan, Chris White
As book publishers eagerly come calling, Yu begins to question her dependence on her husband, who travels to Beijing for construction jobs. Jian Fan needs only the camera and its shots of the quiet dirt roads near Yu’s house and the roaring construction sites where her husband works to tell the corresponding story of China’s rapid economic ascent.
Yu, who often feels confined physically and socially, embraces poetry as an outlet. “Poetry makes me understand that it’s important to live on,” she says. “It supports me. Without poetry, life is empty. When I write, I feel poems give me peace and tranquility.”
POV Spark (
POV Spark (
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About the Filmmakers:
Since 1994, POV Spark has driven new storytelling initiatives and interactive production for POV. The department has continually experimented with web-based documentaries, producing PBS’ first program website and the first Snapchat-native documentary. It has won major awards for its work, including a Webby Award and over 19 nominations. Now with a singular focus on incubating and distributing interactive productions, POV Spark continues to explore the future of independent nonfiction media through its co-productions, acquisitions and the POV Labs, where media makers and technologists collaborate to reinvent storytelling forms.
But her openness leads to disagreements with her parents. Their conflicts reveal a generation gap in rapidly urbanizing China, where the allure of modern city life is causing people to defy centuries-old expectations that they will marry early and build families. At one point, as Yu and her mother argue over a life-changing decision for Yu, the poet pointedly asks, “You live for others or for yourself?”
Yu Xiuhua, a secluded poet made famous by social media, is on a search for meaning in a life marked by numerous struggles. Still Tomorrow chronicles distressing disputes in her family, her sudden rise to prominence and her navigation of a complicated marriage, all of which unfold while she is living in rural China with cerebral palsy. Jian Fan skillfully gives us a glimpse into the life of this bold woman who is consistently challenging the status quo.
Major funding for POV is provided by PBS, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, National Endowment for the Arts and the Wyncote Foundation. Additional funding comes from The John S. and James Knight Foundation, Nancy Blachman and David desJardins, Bertha Foundation, Reva & David Logan Foundation, Open Society Foundations, Chicago Media Project, Sage Foundation, Lefkofsky Family Foundation, The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, New York State Council on the Arts, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, Ann Tenenbaum and Thomas H. Lee and public television viewers. POV is presented by a consortium of public television stations, including KQED San Francisco, WGBH Boston and THIRTEEN in association with WNET.ORG.
American Documentary, Inc. (
Producers:                                                                                   Yu Hongmiao, Xu Zitao