Cut out the Eyes
Release year: 2014
Run time: 80 min
Film type: Documentary
Er Housheng is a blind musician who travels Inner Mongolia with his lover/partner Liu Lanlan, performing the saucy, sensationally bawdy form of musical duet comedy called er ren tai. Er’s female audiences are particularly enthralled with his combination of sensuality, Rabelaisian earthiness, and frankly socially subversive lyrics. Director Xu’s specialty is to train his piercingly observant documentary camera — intimate and complicit, rather than coldly objective — on unique Chinese characters like Er, using them to probe deep beneath the surface of China’s clash of rural traditions with its urbanizing contemporaneity. The result is both an enthralling ethnographic showpiece, and a passionate and frenzied psycho-drama of lust, violence, and genius.
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.