Xiao Wu. 1997. China. Directed by Jia Zhangke. With Wang Hongwei. 35mm. In Mandarin; English subtitles. 110 min.
Small-town pickpocket Xiao Wu struggles to gain a foothold in a rapidly modernizing world. While his old gang buddies have found fortune as entrepreneurs in the new marketplace, Xiao Wu sticks to his old trade and gradually finds himself deserted by everyone he once knew. Since this independently produced debut feature, Jia has created an unparalleled body of work, telling emotionally powerful tales of a society transforming at breakneck speed. His attention to fleeting sights, sounds, and emotions, as well as changing relations between people, makes him an especially penetrating chronicler of contemporary Chinese life. His noted works include Platform (2000), The World (2004), Still Life (2006), A Touch of Sin (2013), and Ash Is Purest White (2018), among others.