North of the National Stadium, the Bird’s Nest, in Beijing is Dong Xiao Kou, a place where 30 thousand Henan residents migrated. They earn a living by scavenging for worn-out recyclables, trying to find a shelter in this city.
In 2002, Lao Xu from Henan rented a wasteland of a hundred acres in Dong Xiao Kou, removed the weeds, paved the roads, built houses, and began to bring along his family and fellow townsmen.
In 2003, Lao Liu’s restaurant closed down. Carrying 3000 RMN, he took his family from Guangshan, Henan to live in Beijing, collecting and selling worn-out wood. For a decade, they’ve lived there in this so-called “waste city,” which is also known as the largest waste disposal and recycling station in Beijing.
12-year-old Wang Qin and her sister, Wang Yun, also grew up in this dilapidated part of the city where they call home, despite the fact that it will soon be demolished and redeveloped, and that they will be forced to move back to their estranged hometown in Henan.
The film records in prose style how families, clans, and villagers move collectively and relocate in Beijing, searching for a livable place and coping with the sense of marginalization and instability in the process of nationwide modernization.
A musician is asked: “Can you make a living?” The reply: “Some can, others cannot.” This story is about the others: Professional musicians who practise their art with great passion and skill, but still have to work on the side. Either just to make ends meet or to maintain a certain quality of life: As a garbage collector, an auto mechanic or doctor.
In Perrault’s Cinderella a pumpkin is transformed into a magnificent coach, mice become fine horses that take the heroine to the ball. A lavish celebration, music, dancing and magic cannons. When the clock strikes twelve the dream is over. Horses and coach change back, Cinderella returns to her everyday life.
The protagonists in this film also live double lives: applauded on stage in the evening, while their everyday life is as “gray” as Cinderella’s. Hard physical labour alongside great art. Our heroes manage their lives with admirable naturalness and dignity. They are passionate about music and approach their second lives in a more matter-of-fact way. They do their jobs because this allows them to live their actual lives, those dedicated to music. How do they manage this balancing act? What does this everyday life look like? This story unfolds in very different places around the world: In Israel, in the Ukraine, and Germany.
They’re nicknamed ‘The Dreamers’. Teenagers from Honduras and El Salvador, ready to face all types of dangers to escape the horrific violence of gangs in Central America. They know that the journey could cost them their lives but they will risk anything to make it to America.
Every month, more than 5,000 unaccompanied children are arrested in the United States after crossing the Mexican border. Joao and Anthony, both 15 and from Honduras, have decided to jump a freight train from Mexico. But on the American side of the border, heavily armed private militia hunt migrants in the desert. They also run the real risk of getting lost in the desert and dying of thirst - a fate that befalls thousands every year. And young girls attempting the crossing are prey to the cartels, who force them into prostitution.
More than 130,000 children were arrested in the past years for attempting the crossing. How many others disappeared on the road to the American Dream?
Bilingual: Cantonese/English (TV Version)
There is a 200 years old house by the riverside, and a couple who have lived together for 76 years.
Mr. Byong-man Jo is 98 years old, but still strong enough to carry lots of firewood. He is so playful that sometimes makes his wife cry. When he cleans the garden, he is prone to splash leaves on his wife. When it snows, he starts a snowball fight. When his wife does the laundry at the small stream, he likes pouring water on her. The wife, Mrs. Gye-Yeul Kang is 89 years old. She still cooks three meals a day for her husband and had never fed him a cold meal.
They wear Korean traditional cloths all the time, go to the aged college twice a week, go to market every five days, go for a picnic with neighbors, and enjoy dance parties. They are still young.
Recently, he is getting weak day by day, and sleeps a lot. When she wakes him up for a meal, he acts irritated and speaks ill of her. This changes make her scary, frightened and lonely. She thinks he is trying to make her dislike him because it's about time to pass away.
She often looks at the river in silence. 40 years ago, they moved here across the river, and when their 6 sons and daughters got married, they went across the river. Her husband will go across the river one day leaving her behind.
Bilingual: Cantonese/Korean (TV Version)