He Jianjun follows fishermen on the banks of the Yellow River in the Shanxi Province. Partly in documentary form, partly as fiction, River People shows traditional life as it passes the generations, calm and irreversible as the river itself, apparently unaffected by economic changes in the city. People live without medical care, social provisions, without tax. It's about the cousins and best friends Baowa and Laba (who sometimes tell the story). An old uncle, who taught everyone the craft, is afraid of the outside world because so many relatives have been so unfortunate there. He doesn't want to think about leaving and has forbidden Baowa, the only one to go to school, ever to mention it. But for the young man, a boat looks like a coffin. When Laba's parents buy a bigger boat, the brothers are faced with an inevitable choice. River People is the story of people who are happy with their lives, but slowly see the modern era creep in.