Skip to content

The Two Shovels

Xu Tong

Release year: 2017

Run time: 62 mins

Film type: Documentary


After filming Tang’s family in Shattered, Xu Tong proceeds to focus on Old Tang’s third son, Tang Laosan, who is arrested on suspicion of murder. He is falsely accused of stealing two shovels by his neighbor Jin, and accidently kills Jin during a dispute. Jin’s family therefore claims compensation of 480,000 RMB. Laosan’s 18 year-old son, who is about to take the National College Entrance Examination, anxiously borrows money from all over to try and save his father. Director Xu Tong is deeply concerned with living circumstances of the lower class people who cannot get any assistance from society when encountering misfortune. He raises a social injustice concern and expresses his sympathy to the lower class through the film.


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.

Director's statement

Little Baozi knelt at his grandfather's feet with a thud, kowtowing three times with a resounding bang. He then stood up, embraced his grandfather, and burst into loud sobs. I stood there, holding the camera, in a daze. Shooting this documentary allowed me to witness the inner struggles of a young person. For those at the grassroots level, when faced with overwhelming disasters, they can only rely on their own strength but often receive little assistance from society. While it is just for a murderer to pay the price, how can justice be achieved? How can the intricate details of a case be thoroughly investigated? How can it be supervised? For those at the grassroots level, it's like blind horses and blind men, resigned to fate. How can 18-year-old Little Baozi cope with it all? I specially invited musician Mr. Liu Donghong to compose and sing for the film. His unique melody and voice not only effectively propel the narrative but also add a lot of visual appeal to the film, making it endlessly memorable.