Acclaimed Canadian-Chinese directorJohnny Ma attentively and affectionately portrays
the world of a Sichuan Opera troupe faced with the demolition of their building and the
decline of their livelihood. China, like many societies, is undergoing a sea change. The
drama combines gritty social realism with surrealism as it asks whether there is a
place for the color of tradition and nuance of heritage in a relentlessly globalizing world.
Making the lives of these headstrong yet hapless characters all the more poignant is
the fact that each opera singer or musician is playing a semi-fictionalized version of
themselves. Bright costumes and whimsical sets belie the fragile physical and
psychological space of tradition eclipsed by technology and urban redevelopment.
This is an astute diagnosis of cultural identity struggling to remain relevant in a society
lost to modernity and a relentless desire for upward economic mobility.