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“with this feature debut, Cui shows a remarkable sense of contemplation, composure, and control in depicting her subjects’ struggle to keep abreast of social changes.”

Clarence Tsui (Film Quarterly)

“captivating [...] a moving dispatch on the imperilled existence (and stubborn endurance) of a wondrous artistic tradition”

Chris Kennedy (TIFF Cinematheque)

“dreamlike and amusing, [...] the film reflects on the schizophrenia of contemporary China”

Brigitte Duzan (Chinese Movies)

“full of imposing vitality”

Ling Zhang (Ta Kung Pao)

“a thoughtful meditation on the evolution of an ancient art”

Caotide (L’emergere Del Possibile)

“subtle and timeless”

Mónica Delgado (DesistFilm)

“my favourite Chinese documentary of  the year”

Wood Lin (FunScreen)

Yi Cui

China/Canada, 2016

80 min, Colour, Mono


Filmed in China’s Loess Plateau, where shadow plays have entertained people and deities for centuries, (Of Shadows) follows a lively and resilient group of shadow play performers as they navigate between the rural staging of ancient plays and the urban spectacle of cultural heritage preservation. While providing a rare glimpse into the nomadic lives of master puppeteers, the film paints a haunting portrait of a revered folk tradition transforming against the backdrop of a country in constant transition.