'Leftover Women' Documentary Offers Glimpse at Modern Lifestyles Amid Inequality and Chinese Tradition

The documentary, directed by Shosh Shlam and Hilla Medalia, debuts at Tribeca Film Festival.

Leftover Women shares the story of young, career-driven women in China who face the traditional path of marriage or going against centuries of tradition. 

Directed by Shosh Shlam and Hilla Medalia, the documentary follows several women of differing ages and careers as they struggle with the label "sheng nu," which refers to professional women over 27 who have failed to meet the societal expectation of securing a husband. 

In this exclusive clip, we meet Qiu HauMei, a 34-year-old lawyer who visits China's leading dating network in search of a romantic partner. Asked what kind of man would be good for her, she answers with a familiar response heard in these conversations, "I have high standards." Then HauMei elaborates on what she's looking for. "For example, he must be well educated," she says. "Most important, he must respect women. He should share the housework with me."

HauMei emphasizes that importance and goes on to share that she's been in two relationships before where the conflict came from her partner not doing enough housework. She is then told by the woman at the dating service that she's not beautiful in a traditional sense. "I don't mean you're not pretty," the woman tells her, "I mean you're not a beauty."

The woman points out HauMei's age with the comment, "And also, you're old."

Leftover Women is co-produced by Yes Docu and ZDF Arte and will premiere in the documentary competition at the Tribeca Film Festival's Village East Cinema on Saturday, April 27, at 8:30 p.m. Additional screenings will follow.