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Taming the Horse

Gu Tao

Release year: 2017

Run time: 124 mins

Film type: Documentary


Growing up on the wind-blown plains of Inner Mongolia, Dong developed an unbridled spirit and a belief in the virtues of simple living. When his family, like millions of others during China’s economic reform, migrated south seeking opportunity, Dong’s spirited ideals were at odds with the values of a rapidly modernizing society in the early throws of consumerist frenzy. More than a decade later, Dong is a dreamer who has lost his way, a loser in derision, spiritually alienated and socially troubled—a listless young adult battling bouts of depression and substance abuse without a sense of place or purpose in his own society. When an old friend and filmmaker returns to the city with a video camera in hand on the eve of Dong’s 30th birthday, something in him stirs and he begins pouring out his most intimate thoughts. Over the course of a year, filmmaker GU Tao accompanies Dong in his struggles with family and society, sex and love, identity and survival as a young man in modern China. The resulting portrait is of a difficult and divisive young man; a sympathetic record on the human condition in contemporary China; a raw cry for truth, a longing for a better life.


Director biography

GU Tao was born in Wenchuan, Sichuan Province in China. He initiated his artistic endeavours in 1998 as an experimental radio host in China, and soon after began exploring a variety of creative media. From 2004 to 2007, he studied in Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema, Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, majoring in Film Production. Upon his arrival in Canada, his cinematic work shifted towards experimental filmmaking. The films he created have been shown in over 60 film/art festivals worldwide, including Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival, Sundance Film Festival, International Film Festival Rotterdam, Toronto International Film Festival, and won numerous world-renowned prizes including the “Special Jury Prize” at International Short Film Festival-Clermont-Ferrand, “Best Director” at Curta Cinema Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, “Canadian Top 10” at Toronto International Film Festival. The Globe and Mail complimented Tao’s film as “the high-art side of Canada’s Sundance roster” (Guy, Dixon, Jan. 20, 2011).