Wang Hongwei, Hao Hongjian, Zu Baitao, Ma Jinrei,
Fresh from the Beijing Film Academy, Jia turned to the dirt streets of his hometown, Fenyang, for his feature debut, a Bresson-in-the-boondocks portrait of China in economic transition and of those who can only watch as they’re left behind. More inclined toward a slow stroll sideways than a great leap forward, the small-time, undermotivated pickpocket Xiao Wu (Wang Hongwei) isn’t keeping up as even dirt-poor Fenyang starts striving for economic success. Ramshackle shops are being demolished for modern structures, the city’s cracking down on street criminals like Xiao Wu, the local bar girl seems unattainable, and even his old prison buddy has become a “model entrepreneur” (selling bootleg cigarettes in large volume and/or pimping women). An eye-on-the-ground paean to the unambitious and the humane, to sparrows in a new world of hawks, Xiao Wu launched not only Jia’s career but also a new wave of Chinese film.
- Jia Zhangke
- Yu Likwai
- with English subtitles
- 105 mins
- Janus Films
- Restored by The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project and Cineteca di Bologna at L'Immagine Ritrovata laboratory in collaboration with Jia Zhangke and in association with MK2. Restoration funding provided by the Hobson/Lucas Family Foundation.