To Live to Sing
Huo Zhe Chang Zhe
True North | True North
On the outskirts of Chengdu, a traditional Sichuan opera troupe faces extinction. With their theatre scheduled for demolition, a wave of progress seems poised to wash them away. Fearful of losing her niece (Gan Guidan) to the opportunities presented by the city, their manager (Zhao Xiaoli) searches for a new theatre. But as she finds herself embroiled in the bureaucracy that comes part and parcel with doing business – or performing art – in China, she notices that the more fantastical elements of their opera have started to manifest in mundane reality…
Johnny Ma (Old Stone) punctuates his sophomore feature with dazzling pageantry and traces of magic while keeping it rooted in the modest ambitions and compelling plights of everyday people. Enlisting a real-life opera troupe to play fictionalized versions of themselves, Ma employs an assured directorial hand in seamlessly translating their born-of-the-stage expressiveness to the big screen.
"With its depictions of working-class life and all the camaraderie and conflicts that comes with it, To Live to Sing looks like something Ken Loach would approve of." - Clarence Tsui, Hollywood Reporter