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Shanghai's principal dancer, 33-year-old Jin Xing, is a big star. She is the first choreographer to have received recognition in over half a century of national communism. But the most amazing thing about Jin Xing is that, up until 1995, this beautiful young woman was a man, a colonel in the People's Liberation Army.
This is a richly cinematic film, combining the colorful imagery of Shanghai's dance world, the panoply of the Chinese People's Army, and the heart-felt expressiveness of the young Colonel who turned his longing to be a woman into a reality. He battled the rigidity of Communist bureaucrats until they relented and allowed the first sex change operation in China. The film interviews his female surgeon, and also follows Jin Xing's setbacks and recovery. His mother, although troubled by her son's singular urge for a sex change, gives him total emotional support. In fact, she later finds a baby for adoption so that Jin Xing could happily become a mother.
Despite Jin Xing's transcendence in the dance world, she is still up against the Chinese bureaucracy which refuses to give her permission to perform on the stages of the Western world. The documentary shows Chinese society in awkward upheaval as this talented artist presses for change.
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