Jia Zhangke, Xiao Wu (Pickpocket), 1997 (still); image: courtesy BAMPFA
Film

Xiao Wu (Pickpocket)

Part of Modern Cinema: Jia Zhangke

Phyllis Wattis Theater

$10 Members

$12 General

Introduction by Jia Zhangke

“In this film, a streetwise youth and petty criminal named Xiao Wu navigates the shattered neighborhoods of the remote provincial town Fenyang without a moral compass. Alienated from his increasingly entrepreneurial criminal colleagues, at odds with the police and his family, and shaken by the fleeting tenderness of a karaoke-bar hostess, his defenses are stripped away until he is forced to face the emptiness of his existence.

Authentically performed by an amateur cast, this debut feature by independent filmmaker Jia Zhangke begins as gritty social realism, but gradually develops into a piercing character study and cultural critique set in the incisively documented landscape of contemporary China. The film dramatizes the festering influence of the black-market corruption that, it suggests, has spread through the whole of Chinese society. Ultimately, Jia goes beyond realism to achieve an existential and spiritual quality that may be compared to that of the work of French director Robert Bresson.” (MoMA)

Rights: Janus Films / Print Source: Celluloid Dreams


Film Details

Country: China | Hong Kong

Language: Mandarin

Year: 1997

Running time: 110 min

Format: 35mm

Director: Jia Zhangke

Screenwriter: Jia Zhangke

Producer: Jia Zhangke , Kit Ming Li


Films and schedules may be subject to change.

Modern Cinema’s Founding Supporters are Carla Emil and Rich Silverstein. Generous support is provided by Nion McEvoy and the Susan Wildberg Morgenstein Fund.

More Modern Cinema: Jia Zhangke Events

See All

Subscribe to the SFMOMA Newsletter

Our monthly dose of videos, essays, art stories and more. Straight to your inbox.