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Li Tong (2009)

Eight-year-old Li Tong from Beijing loses her bus pass one day after school. She decides to walk home. On her way, she encounters a warm-hearted old lady, a security guard, a young woman, a... See full summary »


Nian Liu


Grady Granros (screenplay), Nian Liu (original script)
2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »


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Credited cast:
Kang Yao Kang Yao ... Li Da Heng
Zhao Zhicun Zhao Zhicun ... Li Tong


Eight-year-old Li Tong from Beijing loses her bus pass one day after school. She decides to walk home. On her way, she encounters a warm-hearted old lady, a security guard, a young woman, a man wearing a panda costume, and even a little thief. She soon finds herself hopelessly lost. Only a boy her age, who doesn't go to school but really knows his way around Beijing, offers her a helping hand. Written by Warsaw Film Festival

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Plot Keywords:

children | See All (1) »


A children's story for all ages, following a little girl's journey home through the old and new streets of a changing Beijing.









Release Date:

16 October 2009 (Poland) See more »

Filming Locations:

Beijing, China

Company Credits

Production Co:

Orange Lantern Films See more »
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Technical Specs


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User Reviews

Stunning new filmmaker
27 October 2009 | by nospam-567See all my reviews

I saw Li Tong at Woods Hole Film Festival and was stunned. It is one of the best narrative features I've seen in years. It is a multi-leveled story which can be viewed from a number of different perspectives.

First it is a child's film. The length, 75 minutes, let's young viewers see the story of a little girl who loses her bus pass and must find her way across the city of Beijing to the new house her mother has just moved to. It's a bit scary and but certainly a wonderful journey. The feel was similar in many ways to "The Red Balloon" though not magical but very real. This girl has grown up alone much of the time with her mother working and her father off in America seeking a better life for them. She is not prepared for the world outside her own family yet. While she seems to be a city girl with parents who have money, her companion on much of her journey is a street boy from the country trying to survive in the city. Together they maneuver the pitfalls and wrong turns to finally get her home.

But that is the first level of this film and if a child sees the film, that is what they see. But if you look deeper into the film, there is an adult story hidden there. This is the beauty of the narrative writer/director Nian Liu has woven. The film is from a Communist country and it is likely that the hidden story is hidden for a reason.

Not to get too detailed but... When seen by an adult, one begins to wonder about the girl's real parental situation - why is the father really away and why does mother have such a large collection of balloons and who was the man who answered the phone? Why aren't any men in uniforms willing to take the plight of a child seriously and help? Why are there so few people on the streets of the city? Why do the young couple she comes across, even with the Olympics approaching, dream of leaving China? Why does a migrant worker bring his son to the city instead of leaving his home with his family in the country instead of leaving her home with her mother? All of this starts to add up to a view which our little heroine and her companion don't see but will someday have to grow up and face. Will they want to leave as well or will they find a place in modern China? The film begins to reveal a hidden meaning which says much more about the state of China than it may be allowed to.

Technically the directing, acting, cinematography, pace, and choice of location is stunning. Look for the moment of a sidewalk lined with Chinese lions overshadowed by the scaffolding of the updated of the street. The city and its inhabitants are so smoothly integrated into keeping the story going that the appearance of the Panda walking doesn't seem to surprise. The only flaw is a short interior piece in the opening which reveals the digital film-making. Otherwise, the film is a gem.

A beautiful winner by a bright and up-coming filmmaker.

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