Zhou Hao/2005/93min

Although high school students around the world may think they have it tough, the pressure and hardships they face are nothing when compared to the trials of their Chinese peers, where the university entrance exam is an event of life defining significance.

Senior Year focuses on a class of 78 students who are preparing for the final year university entrance exam. These 17-18 year olds mainly come from the surrounding rural areas, and are working not just to escape a life of farming, but for their families. As the year passes and the exam draws nearer, the film follows the teenagers as they struggle to combine their studies with defining their own identities, all the while watched over by their teacher, carer, guard and confidant, Wang Jinchun, who himself is under intense pressure to ensure they succeed.

The Chinese education system makes for a fascinating subject no matter where the viewer is from, and Zhou Hao does a near perfect job of capturing the ruthless manner in which it trains and processes students, pushing them harder and harder towards their goal. Likely to remain the final word on the subject for the foreseeable future, Senior Year is a moving, shocking and highly entertaining film which is required viewing for anyone with an interest in modern China.


Awards and Film Festival Screenings

  • Chinese Visual Festival (London), 2012
  • Guangzhou International Documentary Film Festival, 2008
  • Best Documentary Award, Hong Kong International Film Festival, 2006
  • Chicago International Film Festival, 2005


Review of Senior Year at Beyondhollywood

About the Director

Zhou Hao was born in 1968 in China. He previously worked as a photographer at Xinhua News Agency and Southern Weekend. He started making documentary films in 2001 and now lives in Guangzhou.


Houjie Township(2003), Senior Year(2005), Using (2007), Transition Period (2009), Cotton (2010), The Transition Period, (2009), Cop Shop (2009), Cop Shop II (2011)

CVF interview with Zhou Hao at Beyondhollywood