Circus School (Ma xi xue xiao)

China 2006, Documentary, 103' | Director, Screenplay, Production Guo Jing, Ke Dingding | DoP Dingding Ke | Editor, Sound Guo Jing | Distribution China Documentary Film Commission

The circus school in Shanghai is a state school that demands a great deal from its pupils: the curriculum includes trapeze, tightropes and acrobatics. But behind the scenes, the magic of the show gives way to the reality that the hard training demands of mind and body. Without passion, this would all be unthinkable: the physical toughening up, the precisely planned daily schedules, the strict diets and the iron discipline. For the children it is difficult to get used to living away from home.

Xu Lu is a tender ten-year-old girl who is part of the trapeze team. Each day she is hurled countless times through the air, even when she is injured. Thirteen-year-old Cai-Ling is a contorsionist. He does everything he can to keep his weight down, although his training is extremely strenuous. The images of their physical work, pushing them to exhaustion, contrast strongly with the breathtaking beauty and precision of their performances - throwing a new light on China's most valued export commodities, who are under enormous pressure from the state to succeed, and are committed to nationalistic values.


Guo Jing, born in 1976 in Shanghai, studied journalism at the "University of Fudan", works as a director and editor Chinese television. In 2003 made the film Menxia de guoshi in collaboration with Ke Dingding, which won the "Joris-Ivens award". Together they founded their own production company.

Dingding Ke was born in 1965, also in Shanghai. He trained as an electrical engineer and cameraman, and works for Chinese television.

Guo Jing, Dingding Ke
Focus: China