VIFF 2019: To Live to Sing


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      Vancouver-raised Johnny Ma, who last brought his prize-winning Old Stone to VIFF, returns to ancient routes of the old country to follow a Sichuan opera troupe on the verge of collapse. The demolitions facing their home theatre—and everything else in fast-changing China—are real, and so are the performers, who do their own music and dancing here.

      It’s essentially a “let’s put on a show to save our beloved roller rink” story, given fresh life in a classical setting. The pile-up of set pieces near the end is almost too much of a good thing, but Ma makes an entertaining case for not throwing out your culture with the reconstruction.