|Directed by||Jia Zhangke|
|Produced by||Li Kit Ming
|Written by||Jia Zhangke|
|Cinematography||Nelson Yu Lik-wai|
|Edited by||Yu Xiaoling|
|Distributed by||Hu Tong Communications|
February 18, 1998
The film was the directorial debut of Jia Zhangke, one of the major figures of the so-called Sixth Generation of Chinese cinema and stars Wang Hongwei in the titular role along with Hao Hongjian and Zuo Baitao. Xiao Wu was filmed in the city of Fenyang in 16 mm.
The film is set in 1997, with the transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kong being mentioned in the background. The place is a small provincial town, dirty and poor. Xiao Wu is one of a group of pickpockets, most of whom have moved on to become small traders and legal or semi-legal. One of them, formerly a close friend, is getting married and decides not to invite Xiao Wu, a reminder of the past. He drifts around, discontent with this, but makes no effort to change. He acquires a girlfriend, a prostitute who takes a liking to him, but she drops him when she gets some better prospect. He visits his poor-peasant family but ends up quarrelling with his parents and saying he won't ever come back. Finally he gets arrested and we last see him handcuffed in the middle of the street with a disapproving crowd watching him. There is a big crack-down on crime, something mentioned at the start of the film, so his fate is likely to be harsh.
While a student in the mid-1990s, Jia Zhangke remained a relative unknown at China's prestigious Beijing Film Academy. While still in school, Jia directed the short film Xiao Shan Going Home which he was eventually able to screen abroad, winning the top prize at the 1997 Hong Kong Independent Short Film & Video Awards
This success brought Jia into contact with cinematographer Yu Lik-wai and producer Li Kit Ming. With their support, Jia was able to begin work on Xiao Wu, which would become his first feature film. Xiao Wu was shot on a mere 400,000 RMB budget (or about $50,000 US).
Awards and nominations
- Berlin International Film Festival, Forum section, 1998
- NETPAC Award
- Wolfgang Staudte Award
- Buenos Aires International Festival of Independent Cinema, 1999
- Official selection
- Nantes Three Continents Festival, 1998
- Golden Montgolfiere (Tied with Wandâfuru raifu)
- Pusan International Film Festival, 1998
- New Currents Award
- San Francisco International Film Festival, 1999
- SKYY Prize
- Vancouver International Film Festival 1998
- Lee, Kevin. "Jia Zhangke". Senses of Cinema. Archived from the original on 2007-09-12. Retrieved 2007-09-22.