When an impoverished country couple adopts a crippled young girl and puts her to work begging on city streets, a battle soon ensues over her fate.
Luo Jiang and Guihua, a poor, middle-aged couple with few prospects, decide to buy an 11- year-old girl, Xiao Ezi (aka "Little Moth"), for $140 in rural China. Xiao Ezi's life is in peril, as she is forced to earn money for her new parents as a beggar while suffering from a blood disease that leaves her unable to walk. Her greedy adoptive father, Luo Jiang, refuses to buy her medicine, while Guihua's growing maternal affection wracks her with guilt. After a run-in with local extortionists, the three flee into the territory of the unsavory Mr. Yang, whose one-armed boy Xiao Chun is also forced to beg. Inevitably the grownups take turns taking advantage of each other, giving the children a rare opportunity to develop a protective bond with one another.
With virtually no budget, a hand-held digital camera and a cast of non-professionals, Peng Tao turns the sordid street life of small town China into a chain-reaction tale of human cruelty and unforgettable suspense. LITTLE MOTH "melds the anger and storytelling scope of Dickens, the doc-influenced immediacy and sensitive gaze of the Dardenne brothers, and the best tendencies of recent Chinese cinema." (Robert Koehler, Variety).
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