The colorful life of a countryside fortune teller provides a candid and deeply revelatory look at people living on the fringes of Chinese society.
Li Baicheng is a charismatic fortune teller who services a clientele of prostitutes and shadowy figures whose jobs, like his, are commonplace but technically illegal in China. He practices his ancient craft in a village near Beijing while taking care of his deaf and dumb wife Pearl, who he rescued from her family's mistreatment. Winter brings a police crackdown on both fortune tellers and prostitutes, forcing Li and Pearl into temporary exile, during which they visit their hometowns and confront old family demons. Li's humble story is punctuated with chapter headings reminiscent of Qing Dynasty popular fiction.
In Fortune Teller, Xu Tong continues his work documenting China's underclass, whose lives have gone largely unnoticed during the country's boom years. Xu spent a year filming nearly every detail of Li's daily existence and the ancient spiritual practices he administers.
"An exhaustive case history on the marginalization of the poor and disabled under Chinese capitalism" —Ronnie Scheib, Variety
Top 100 mainland Chinese films, Time Out Shanghai 2014
Bright Future, Rotterdam International Film Festival
NETPAC Award for the Best Feature-length Film, Chongqing Independent Film Festival
Jury Prize, China Documentary Film Festival
Second Prize Feature Film, Hong Kong Chinese Documentary Festival
Dragons and Tigers Selection, Vancouver International Film Festival
Cinema Digital Seoul Film Festival
Beijing Youth Independent Film Festival
China Independent Film Festival-Annual Top Ten Documentary Showcase
Fourth Beijing Independent Film Festival
"A complete immersion into their deceptively simple world in the countryside of northern China." —Ada Tseng, Asia Pacific Arts