As I was biking home the other night, I came through the courtyard of my apartment complex and met a sight. Some people had erected a huge canvas screen on an iron stand, and ran a cable out to power a projector.

A crowd of 130 or so residents had gathered to watch a movie. I stopped my bike to have a look what was going on. There were lots of old people, young people and in-between people.

It was a comfy night; not cold, not hot. Some had brought chairs or stools to sit on. Others stood at the back. Kids were running around or roller-skating. Adults were chatting, shifting about.

A square between the projector and the screen had been roped off with plastic tape and everyone was clustered close behind that.

In the film there was a young Chinese man and woman dressed in sombre clothes who looked cleverer and handsomer than their poor rural existence merited.

They liked each other but were being very restrained about it.

I stayed to watch the end. Then I found out the film was called Under the Hawthorn Tree. It was a rapidly-pirated copy of Zhang Yimou (张艺谋 Zhāng Yìmóu)’s latest film.

I think I’d like to watch the whole thing.