Based on a true story, BUS 44 is an Award Winning Chinese short film (subtitles) Written, Directed and Produced by Dayyan Eng.
The film opens up with striking cinematography (Sam Koa) of a singular bus driving along a lonesome tree-lined road. There are no markers to define where this is – creating a beautiful ambiguity of time and place.
A female bus driver (Beibi Gong) drives the almost full bus of passengers to a destination unknown. The bus comes to a stop when flagged down by a young man (Wu Chao) who says he’s been waiting two hours on the road. He pays his fare, asks if it’s okay if he smokes and notices from the license, that the driver is filling in for someone else. The bus driver tells him to find himself a seat.
The same scenario seems to repeat itself when the bus driver stops for two men. The two men board the bus and a robbery takes place. Before exiting the bus, one of the robbers decides to take the bus driver with him.
What makes this film difficult yet fascinating to watch – is the human exploration by the filmmaker – of how people react in certain situations. While everyone just sits on the bus as the female bus driver is dragged away, Chao asks out loud “why is everyone just sitting?” The film becomes so disturbing at this point – how can these passengers sit there and choose to do NOTHING? Chao exits the bus in an attempt to help the girl.
The haunting ending to this chilling story is heartbreaking – and somehow feels justified. It brings you into the victim’s mental status. Her choice is clear for the passengers – and for Chao.