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Barefoot Doctor Sun Lizhe

Xu Tong

Release year: 2017

Run time: 100 mins

Film type: Documentary


This documentary film recounts Dr Sun Lizhe's remarkable experience as a barefoot doctor in rural China and offers a glimpse of China's healthcare condition during and shortly after the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976). Described as a "Chinese Dr Zhivago" in the film, Sun's distinguished life started with his decision to become a "barefoot doctor" when he was an 18 year-old educated youth from Beijing sent down to the countryside. He had since saved numerous lives by performing difficult surgery when emergency situations arose. In villages where medical resources were extremely limited, Sun devoted himself to the healthcare of peasants, performing more than 3000 operations in the cave dwellings of Shaanxi province. In 1974 he was selected by Chairman Mao as one of China's five model "educated youths".


Director biography

Xu Tong, born in Beijing in 1965. In 1983, attended the Journalism and Photography programme at the Communication University of China. Xu currently resides and works in Beijing. He made documentaries "Wheat Harvest," "Fortune Telling," and "Shattered" collectively referred to as the Nomad Trilogy. Subsequently he completed the documentaries "The Fourth Brother" and "Cut Out the Eyes." He has participated in numerous domestic and international film festivals, receiving awards. In 2011, he was awarded as the "Cultural China Person of the Decade" by the Oriental Morning Post. In 2013, the novel "Treasure Island" was published by the Yangtze Literature and Art Publishing House.