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aka Lu CAO DI

Year: 2004
USA: First Run Features
Cast: Hurichabilike, Dawa, Geliban, Yidexinnaribu, Badema, Wurina, Dugema, Jinlaowu, Buhebilike, Sarengaowa, Jirimu
Director: Ning Hao
Country: China
Language: Mongolian (English subtitles)
USA: 102 mins
USA Release Date: 21 April 2006 (Limited Release - New York and Portland)
US Distributor


When Bilike (Hurichabilike) finds an ordinary ping-pong ball floating in the creek, a series of charming adventures begins for the prepubescent Mongolian boy and his family and friends.

Young Bilike has never seen a ping-pong ball before. He and his family live without electricity and running water in a solitary tent home among the vast steppe grasslands. The magnificent landscape here has changed little since the 13th-century reign of Genghis Kahn.

But life in the middle of nowhere is more exciting for a young boy than one would imagine. The smallest of details can become big events for curious Bilike and his best friends Erguotou and Dawa. The mystery of the small white ball leads to questions about the world around them, as well as innocent mischief.

Bilike's old grandmother says the ball is a glowing pearl sent by the gods. But the boys are skeptical after waiting all night outdoors for the ball to light up. Since none of their other family members have an idea about the odd white object, the three boys trek to the faraway monastery to consult the wise lamas. But even the grasslands' most knowledgeable inhabitants are stumped.

At a film projection during a local fair, Bilike and his friends discover golf. Thinking he has just a common old golf ball, disappointed Bilike dumps it in a rat hole. But soon the boys learn about ping-pong while watching for the first time the new television Dawa's father has won. They are excited to hear that their object is the "national ball of China."

Not realizing how far Beijing actually is, the determined young boys set off to return the ping-pong ball to the Chinese capital. An even bigger adventure and mo re amusing trouble await them.

Director's Comments

Mongolia, whether for the East or West, is such an enigmatic place. With their small horses and efficient yurt tent homes, these are the people who conquered every piece of reachable land 800 years ago. In a very short period of time, the Mongolians established history's biggest empire with their legendary invincibility. However, their empire disappeared in an equally enigmatic way. The Mongolians then returned to the barren grasslands of their ancestors where they continue their nomadic existence still today. The vast grasslands environment plays a part in shaping Mongolian children's unruly character. When seeing them ride freely on horseback on the wide-open landscape, I am deeply touched. Their childhood, like everyone else's around the world, is full of questions and confusions. Those questions and confusions may either be clarified or simply forgotten along the way. All just a part of life.

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