To Live To Sing
Gentrification hits working-class China and a Sichuan Opera troupe struggle to survive in this vivid drama with fantasy flourishes, portraying tradition’s battle against time.
Dir-Scr Johnny Ma
Prod Vincent Wang, Jing Wang
With Zhao Xiaoli, Gan Guidan, Yan Xihu
Sales Films Boutique
With English subtitles
Zhao Li is a woman trying to hold it all together. The Sichuan Opera troupe she manages is creating beautiful work, but it plays to a dwindling audience of the loyal elderly from the theatre’s down-at-heel neighbourhood. With the troupe consisting mainly of veteran performers, her hopes for a change in fortune rest on the shoulders of her talented niece Dan Dan. So, Zhao Li sets about putting on a show to grab the attention of a local bureaucrat who could reverse their eviction notice. For his second feature, Chinese-Canadian filmmaker Johnny Ma corrals a cast made up of real-life Sichuan Opera performers, painting this makeshift family in brightly coloured hues, and injecting humour and splashes of fantasy into this engaging tribute to the endurance of the artistic spirit.