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Ballad of Roaming Spirits

Li Xiaofeng and Jia Kai

Release year: 2019

Run time: 81 mins

Film type: Documentary


Since his wife left him, Jun has been a wandering soul who wonders what purpose all his suffering serves. In a simple farming village surrounded by barren hills, he takes care of a small temple. He looks at his hands: his right is blessed, and his left is deformed. He believes he has healing abilities and goes from house to house to help the sick.

As the seasons pass, this gently-paced portrait of the wandering Jun is interwoven with impressions of village life, with its rituals and festivals, and poverty that makes many people desperate, and some defiant.

Two sheep, destined to be sacrificed, add a grimly poetic note to this uncompromising and moving meditation on fate and the search for meaning. The body cam worn by one of the sheep also makes for some surprising shots. Meanwhile, Jun’s musings gradually reveal more about the crises he has had to endure and the reason for his self-sacrifice.


Director biography

Li Xiaofeng Born in Pingxiang, Jiangxi Province, and now living in Shanghai, Li Xiaofeng is the author of Films in the Twentieth Century and Creation of Documentary Films. Films include The Striker of the Spring Gong, awarded Best Short Documentary at the 8th Beijing Film Festival of University Students, 2001); The Night Goer, selected for the 20th Fribourg International Film Festival and the 8th Taipei Film Festival, as well as many international film exhibitions); Leather Shoes or Straw Sandals, selected for the NHK International High Resolution Documentary Project in 2006; and A Street Of One Hundred Paces.

Jia Kai Born in Suide, Sha’anxi Province, Jia Kai obtained his Masters degree from the Art Department of Beijing Normal University and now is a lecturer in the College of Communication and Art at Shanghai Tongji University. He is the translator of three books, including Robert J. Flaherty: A Biography, and has participated in the production of films such as The Night Goer, Leather Shoes or Straw Sandals, and A Street of One Hundred Paces. In addition, he has also produced many programs for CCTV, Beijing TV Station, and Shanghai TV Station.