Synopsis by Jason Buchanan
Filmmaker Chao Gan offers fly on the wall insight into the Chinese passion for gymnastics with this documentary set against the backdrop of preparations for the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics. Contemporary China is a place of many contradictions, and at no time is this more apparent than when peering out from the crowded apartment complexes of the huddled poor and seeing such distant signs of prosperity as new skyscrapers and bright lights. At the Lu Wan District Youth Athletic School in Shanghai, teachers are known to steer the kindergarten age students more towards competitive sports than reading and writing. Opportunities for youngsters are sparse in the countryside, so rural parents send their children to Lu Wan in hopes that they will one day find success as national gold medalists and perhaps earn enough money to build a home for their families. But the road to success isn't easy, because the trainers can be unusually cruel to students who don't measure up. As the filmmaker exposes the desperation of these impoverished families, the viewer is forced to wonder what the true cost of a New China will be.