Torch Troupes (Huo Ba Ju Tuan)

XU Xin. China, 2006.
Documentary, 110 minutes. Mandarin and Sichuan dialect w/ English subtitles.

, In this vivid portrait of China’s musical heritage, Sichuan Opera performers strive to keep a centuries-old artform alive.

After thriving for 300 years, Sichuan Opera is an endangered art form. Having survived the Cultural Revolution, state-sponsored opera troupes now face extinction in the era of private enterprise. Opera master Li Baoting began his career at eight, but now performs pop songs with showgirls in cheap bars. His colleague Wang Bin performs in travelling tents, trying to resist the massive cultural changes threatening to wipe out this artform.

In Torch Troupes, acclaimed filmmaker Xu Xin (Karamay, Jury Prize, Locarno Film Festival) captures the painstaking preparations of Sichuan Opera performers and bears witness to the difficulties they face: an aging audience, the demolition of traditional teahouse venues, and career pressures to adopt modern dance or karaoke, or abandon the stage altogether. Torch Troupes offers an eye-opening overview of popular performance culture in contemporary China, and a poignant reflection of the struggle to preserve a cultural heritage in the face of widespread social transformation.

Director’s Bio:
Xu Xin

Select Film Festivals:

  • OFFICIAL SELECTION, Reel China Film Festival
  • OFFICIAL SELECTION, Filming East Festival
  • OFFICIAL SELECTION, Rome Asiatica Film Mediale


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