Cut out the Eyes

At once piercingly observant and intimately complicit in his approach, director Xu Tong trains his mobile, intimacy-generating camera on unique real-life characters in order to explore the ongoing clash of rural traditions with China’s rush to modernity. 
In Cut Out the Eyes, Xu follows Er Housheng, a blind musician who travels Inner Mongolia with his lover/partner Liu Lanlan performing the saucy, sensationally bawdy form of musical duet comedy called er ren tai. Er’s female audiences are particularly enthralled with his combination of sensuality, Rabelaisian earthiness, and socially subversive lyrics. 
Er is a charismatic, mesmerizing narrative-generating machine, singing of his own incredibly fascinating, violently tumultuous life, and of the (mostly) sex lives of the people who form his community, grass roots down-to-earth folk whose lives haven’t changed much in decades, in rural Chinese Inner Mongolia. 
Live performance, in Er’s hands (and in his and Liu Lanlan’s voices) is something both enthrallingly surreal and earthily commonplace: his audiences hear him boast about his prowess, his courage, his creativity, his trouble with women, not unlike a 1930s American blues singer, or even a 21st century Chinese rural Kanye West! 
The commonplace becomes spectacle, reality shines like magical fables, But there is darkness, danger, and unspeakable violence in Er Housheng’s life, love, and lyrics. 
While the film is on one level an enthralling ethnographic showpiece, at its core Cut Out the Eyes is a passionate, frenzied psychodrama of lust, violence, and genius.
DING Shiwei 
China 2013, 5' 
Animated short 
An industrial fantasy in black and white: bodies flicker between public monuments while sunflowers hang beneath the ground.
Shelly Kraicer
Film Director: XU Tong
Year: 2014
Running time: 80'
Country: China