Release year: 2010
Run time: 157 mins
For four seasons, this confrontational documentary follows Li Baicheng, a traditional Chinese soothsayer, and his deaf and dumb, mentally and physically handicapped wife Little Pearl. In a village not far from Beijing, Li predicts the future for his clientele, which seems primarily to consist of prostitutes. When the police start clamping down on both the sex industry and illegal soothsayers, he feels forced to return with Little Pearl to his home village. The narrative is structured in chapters, a formal reference to the popular fiction of the Qing dynasty.
Xu Tong was born in 1965 in Beijing, and majored in news photography at the Communications University of China. He describes himself as a vagabond filmmaker, as his filmmaking focuses on those who live on the margins of the society, often outside the law, in northern China. He uses his camera to express sympathy and even empathy with the marginality and defiant nonconformity of many of his subjects.