This is a story about Uyghur youth coming of age in Xinjiang.
Seventeen-years-old Aydar did not pass his college entrance exam. Since his father passed away, he had became the head of the family; this nurtured him into a careful person, despite his passion for the extreme sport, Parkour. On the other hand, his adventurous younger brother Xirali loves extreme sports and wants to become Jackie CHAN, someday. Their mom is worried about their love for danger, their reckless lifestyle, and wishes that they could be more grounded.
Kids from different ethnic groups but of similar age join the ESP Parkour Team with hopes of making it to the National Parkour Competition in Beijing. They spend endless hours looking for the perfect practicing grounds, desperately raising funds for the trip to Beijing, and seeking help and support wherever they can. Each step was fraught with challenges as team members begin to waver their decision. But the fearless Xirali and the newest member Sadam have their eyes set on Beijing.
Aydar knows he won’t be able to participate in the competition but he secretly helps Xirali raise traveling funds, while Xirali puts on street performances. Sadam also travels thousands of miles to seek help from relatives. His grandparents are reluctant and discourage him, his estranged and drunken father refuses, but his mother’s love and generosity further infuses Sadam’s passion. Excited, Sadam returns to Urumqi to prepare for their big trip. Meanwhile, the brother’s mom finally finds out about Xirali’s desire to participate in this extreme sport competition, and despite her fears and worries, she accompanies Xirali to the train station and watches as her younger son embarks on his own journey.
The competition was even more intimidating than what the boys had expected. Watching Xirali and Sadam on live television. Aydar and his mom wished they were there to encourage and cheer the boys on. Both boys performed poorly and were defeated. But on the train ride home, the boys reflected on this journey. With their eyes closed, and their minds open, for the first time the boys had realizde that they were winners after all. Despite losing in the Parkour competition, they are humbled and gain a true sense of self in the game of life.
About the Director
HAO Zhi-qiang is a documentary film director and producer. He graduated with a degree in Animation Directing from Beijing Film Academy in 1988, and was the director for CCTV’s Overseas Center Thematic Programming department. In 2001 HAO established Evo Productions, an independent media company. The company’s productions include animated film WIND, documentary film BIG TREE COUNTY, which has been screened in numerous international film festivals and received awards from National Geography and Japan’s Earth Vision Film Festival. HAO has been a commissioned director by BBC, PBS, ARD, ARTE on several Chinese documentary programs. In 2012, Hao produced two new documentary films titled MOTHERS and Bazaar Jumpers. In 2013, Mothers won Special Mention of Jury Awards at Sheffield Doc/Fest; Bazaar Jumpers won Best Chinese Documentary Award at Shanghai International TV Festival.
2011 Subway to Yongchun, producer
2010 Where Should I Go?, produce／Dragon Boat, producer
2008 Beijing Memory: Yongdingmen, producer
2003 The Documents of Forbidden City, DP
1996 Three Brothers Going into City
1993 Mr. Zhao of Self-employment／Rock Beijing／Record Event of North Korea
1992 Big Tree County
From the Director
Xinjiang is the largest province in China, taking up 1/5 of the landmass, with the largest Chinese Islamic population. Having lived amongst Muslims in the past, I have always been fascinated by the vast landmass, the exotic ethnic customs, and the mythical stories of Nasreddin from Xinjiang ever since I was a child. But over the years the real image of Xinjiang has faded, where its life and its people are hardly ever in the news or on television. It wasn’t until the July 5th 2009 riots that Xinjiang came back into our collective consciousness.
I met and became good friends with brothers Aydar and Xirali while filming ESP Urumqi Parkour Team. Aydar is the team leader who’s deeply passionate about parkour. He wrote to me recently to say that in order to lessen his mom’s financial burdens, he decided not to attend college. He found a security guard job at a bank. And he said he’s not too happy with his brother Xirali’s grades. But the two brothers will always have that common love for parkour. He asked if I would film a trailer for their team in order to submit to the National Parkour Competition to be held in Beijing. I agreed to make a trailer, but also wanted to document the young, passionate and fearless parkour kids.
I hope, through our film, people will get to know more about Xinjiang, understand Xinjiang youth, their lives, and gain a glimpse to their coming of age.
※ Shanghai International TV Festival, Best Chinese Documentary Award, 2013
※ The 9th Beijing International Sports Film Week, 2013
※ The 31st Milano International FICTS Fest, 2013
※ The 2nd DC Chinese Film Festival, Grand Jury Award: Best Documentary Feature, 2014
※ The 4th Festival de film Écrans De Chine, MEILLEUR MOYEN MÉTRAGE, 2014