The movie starts when the day becomes night. Real life continues to drift by. Herds of water buffalo. Men balancing buckets of water across their shoulders. Villagers carrying torches to guide their way home.
They march right through this ephemeral theater amid jagged mountains and rice paddies, throwing black shadows on a white canvas screen tied to the door of a barn.
About a generation ago, this was how most Chinese watched movies: under the stars, and mostly for free. Now a group of six retired men is trying to revive this Maoist-era tradition. Strapping an old projector and rusty cases of film reels on the back of a motorbike, they’ve been traveling rugged country roads to bring the magic of cinema to remote villages untouched by the marvels of the big screen.