Lao lu tou
It is winter in the northern Chinese province of Dansu. In order to build a chemical factory, poor farmers in the village of Gaotai are driven off their land by a local businessman and the party bosses of the Communist village council. But 84-year-old Ma, nicknamed 'the old donkey', refuses to leave his field. And he just happens to have a crucial piece of land.
In the face of all the jubilant stories about the wealth China is acquiring thanks to capitalism, young director Li Ruijun strikes a critical note. The transition from deeply rooted communism with its omnipotent village councils to the free market is anything but flawless, according to the maker.
The film is not very optimistic about the resistance that the farmers can offer. In an apparently pointless battle, Ma tries to prevent the advancing desert from consuming the graves of his parents. The camera work by Yang Jin puts the characters in the desolate and threatening yet also beautiful landscapes around Gaotai, the birthplace of the director.