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A Folk Troupe

2013 DOK Leipzig, International Competition Documentary Film
China | 2013 | 62 min. | Chinese | English subtitles | International Premiere
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A Folk Troupe | A Folk Troupe

It’s not exactly a life of ease for the travelling showmen. A theatre company of eleven move into a provisional domicile in a garage-like hall right next to a large construction site on the outskirts of Chengdu, a business centre in the southwest of China. Here a special tradition of the Beijing Opera, the Sichuan Opera, has developed over the years. The actors perform a different play every day. From childhood on, they have learned the secrets of the artfully stilted songs and the sophisticated choreographies of changing the elaborate masks for the three- to four-hour performances. Century-old tales are repeated again and again. But life on the road is far from romantic. They are stuck in Chengdu because they have no money for travelling on; bureaucrats are unwilling to issue permissions, the company is caught in internal disputes, and the mood is tense. The audience on their simple wooden chairs are worn-down figures whose furrowed faces indicate a life of deprivation. The contrast to the colourful productions on stage, whose titles, like “In the Land of Plenty”, hold magnificent promises, couldn’t be bigger. The audience may just about be able to afford this kind of travelling opera, but it’s an unmistakeable swan song. Another piece of cultural history about to get lost …

Cornelia Klauß
Original Title: A Folk Troupe
Country: China
Year: 2013
Language: Chinese
Subtitle: English
Runtime: 62 min.
Format: HD Videofile (QT H.264 1080p)
Color: Colour
Director: Gang Zhao
Producer: Gang Zhao, Cherelle Zheng
Cinematographer: Qian Ge, Deng Gang
Editor: Luo Quan
Sound: Liu Jian
Script: Lin Yan
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The texts to the Documentary Competition films and the International Programme films were written by the members of the selection committee. All quotes from DOK Leipzig catalogue articles must be identified as such and cite the author’s name. All articles where no author’s name is given are production notes.