Double Bill: Children of the Chinese Circus & Brave Father


Part of the documentary film series
Visions of a New China

Double Bill (One ticket admits to both films below):

Children of the Chinese Circus 马戏学校
Dir. GUO Jing, KE Dingding 郭静, 柯丁丁
2007. China/UK. 58 min. Digibeta. English subtitles.

Take a behind-the-scenes look at the training of some of the world’s best acrobats and circus performers. In this Shanghai circus school, a highly disciplined environment, small children endure excruciating and dangerous training regimes. Mostly from poor families, these children are sent to the school by their parents in the hope that the specialty training will secure them a future. While small children endure agonizing daily practice, the teachers are also under tremendous pressure to produce award-winning stunts. A faculty meeting turns into a Cultural Revolution-styled criticizing session. This film is set to change your perception of acrobatic performances forever.

"Recalling the finest nonfiction achievements of Frederick Wiseman…. Fiercely intelligent." — Robert Koehler, Variety

HotDocs International Documentary Festival (2007)
Vienna International Film Festival (2007)

Watch a trailer:

GUO Jing was born in 1976 in Shanghai, China. She graduated from the journalism department of Fudan University and has worked as a director and editor ever since. KE Dingding was born in 1965 in Shanghai, China. He graduated from the Institute of Chengdu Radio Engineering and has been working as a photographer and director since 1995. Other films by the duo include First Period (2009), All About My Friends (2010), and Fruitful Summer (2006).

Brave Father 父亲
Dir. LI Junhu 李军虎
2007. China. 55 min. Digibeta. English subtitles.

Han Shengli has been admitted to a university in Xi'an. For his peasant family, this presents an incredible opportunity to move up the economic ladder. To pay for his education, the family sells off most of its valuable belongings. Shengli’s father also comes to Xi'an to find work in construction, while the son quietly collects plastic bottles on campus to make small change. The extremely shy son, who struggles to find a job upon graduation that pays better than his father’s construction work, is a sharp contrast to his old man, who is expressive and resourceful, and reads from a small notebook about his dreams for his son. While a brighter future is not yet in sight, he still believes all the sacrifices will eventually pay off.

"An incredibly moving affair, with the determination of its characters offset and cruelly undermined by the harsh economic reality of the modern Chinese employment sector." — James Mudge,

Watch a trailer:

LI Junhu (b. 1977) graduated from Xi’an Arts Academy with a degree in photography. He currently works for the International Division of Shaanxi TV Station. His TV documentaries have won many awards both in China and internationally. His previous works include Cyber Love (2004), Accompanied Study (2005), Born in 1977 (2006), City (2006), etc.

The Visions of a New China film series is supported in part by a grant from the Open Society Foundations. Additional support is provided by the Center on U.S.-China Relations and New York State Council on the Arts.

Event Details

Sun 16 Oct 2011
3:00 PM - 5:05 PM

725 Park Avenue, New York, NY

Online and phone ticketing is now closed for this program. Tickets are available for walk-in purchases. $7 members; $9 students/seniors; $11 nonmembers (Series discount available. Click on series link for more information.)
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