A beautiful little film. It is a documentary about four children in an orphanage, Muslim Uighurs, who begin to train as acrobats and tightrope walkers, traditional ways of earning a living for Uighurs. It also looks at their would-be trainers, the orphanage staff, their families, their teachers, their relations with each other and other children- all the many metaphorical tightropes they must manage as well: the balance between Uighur and Chinese, between Muslim and communist, ambition and realism. The opening scene sets the tone: the C.P. minder stands by the film crew's car after he learns they are film-makers and contacts Party H.Q. and the verdict comes back "You are allowed to film, but you are not allowed to translate this conversation." and the film shows the balancing acts of all the adults they talk to- most of them trying to be decent human beings, whatever their ideology- and the children caught between fantasy and reslity.
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