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.
Hong Kong International Film Festival
Locarno International Film Festival
Bucharest International Film Festival
Cairo International Film Festival
Brisbane International Film Festival
"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
"Suspenseful, moving yet ruthlessly unsentimental."
Jason Anderson, Eye Weekly
"A nearly perfect little film."
Shelly Kraicer, Vancouver International Film Festival