One Child Nation

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One Child Nation
Theatrical release poster
Directed by
Produced by
  • Nanfu Wang
  • Jialing Zhang
  • Christoph Jorg
  • Julie Goldman
  • Christopher Clements
  • Carolyn Hepburn
  • Nanfu Wang
  • Yuanchen Liu
Edited byNanfu Wang
Music by
  • Nathan Halpern
  • Chris Ruggiero
  • Next Generation
  • ITVS
  • WDR/Arte
  • Motto Pictures
  • Pumpernickel Films
Distributed byAmazon Studios
Release dates
  • January 26, 2019 (2019-01-26) (Sundance)
  • August 9, 2019 (2019-08-09) (United States)
Running time
89 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$271,841[1]

One Child Nation is a 2019 American documentary film directed by Nanfu Wang and Jialing Zhang about the fallout of China's one-child policy that lasted from 1979 to 2015. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on January 26, 2019, where it was awarded the U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Documentary Award, and was theatrically released in the United States on August 9, 2019, by Amazon Studios. It received positive reviews from critics and was nominated for the Gotham Independent Film Award for Best Documentary.


Both directors Wang and Zhang were born under the one-child policy in China during the 1980s, but knew little of its effects as it was second nature among the country's populace. After moving to the United States and getting pregnant with her first child in 2017, Wang returned to China in an effort to "explore the direct effects of the 'population war' on her family... acquaintances from her rural village, midwives, family planning officials, journalists and artists".[2]


Box office[edit]

The film opened at one theater in New York City and one in Los Angeles and grossed $22,244 in its opening weekend, with Amazon reporting "sold-out shows throughout the weekend".[3]

Critical response[edit]

On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 98% of 100 reviews are positive, with an average rating of 8.4/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "As illuminating as it is accessible, One Child Nation probes a painful chapter in Chinese history with piercing clarity."[4] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the film a score of 85 out of 100 based on 25 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[5]

David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter called the film "a valuable record and a sober but frightening illustration of the dark side of this government-controlled experiment" and praised the editing and musical score.[2] Ram Venkat Srikar of Cinema Sentries called the film "an unapologetic description of the unpleasant aftermath of China's One-Child Policy".[6] Inkoo Kang at Slate wrote that the film is "best viewed as an oral history of a desperate experiment in a fast-changing, selectively amnesiac country" but that "its directness and intimacy lend an indelibility that encyclopedic framing could never approximate."[7]

ChinaFile published a set of critiques of "the film’s many lacunae, distortions (including overgeneralizations), and failures to address the policy in broader perspective, especially its clear and substantial benefits to significant numbers of women".[8]


  1. ^ "One Child Nation". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on July 23, 2019. Retrieved September 20, 2019.
  2. ^ a b David Rooney (January 26, 2019). "'One Child Nation': Film Review - Sundance 2019". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on February 4, 2021. Retrieved August 8, 2019.
  3. ^ Brooks, Brian (August 11, 2019). "'The Peanut Butter Falcon' Leads Mixed Weekend; Music Doc 'Bring The Soul' Croons; 'The Farewell' Salutes $10M: Specialty Box Office". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on February 25, 2021. Retrieved August 11, 2019.
  4. ^ "One Child Nation". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved October 10, 2021.
  5. ^ "One Child Nation". Metacritic. Red Ventures. Retrieved 15 October 2021.
  6. ^ Ram Venkat Srikar (December 19, 2019). "'One Child Nation': Film Review - MAMI 2019". Archived from the original on January 14, 2020. Retrieved January 14, 2020.
  7. ^ Kang, Inkoo (9 August 2019). "One Child Nation Is a Haunting Documentary About a Country's Attempts to Justify the Unjustifiable". Slate. Archived from the original on 15 November 2021. Retrieved 15 November 2021.
  8. ^ Li, Jie; Greenhalgh, Susan; Thornber, Karen (6 February 2020). "What a Picture of China's One-Child Policy Leaves Out". ChinaFile. New York: Asia Society. Retrieved 21 November 2021.

Further reading[edit]


External links[edit]