The Two Lives of Li Ermao
Li Ermao was born a boy, but has lived for many years now as a “ladyboy.” She performs in clubs, but yearns for true love and acceptance. The film follows her life for 17 years, in which she displays resilience and vulnerability in equal measure, and repeatedly encounters prejudice and even aggression.
She and her boyfriend move to the countryside. There, they try to build a new life in harsh conditions on a plot of land inherited from her family, but she is once again met with rejection. She returns to the city, where it looks like she might very well collapse under the pressure of life as a transgender person in China.
As the years progress, filmmaker Jia Yuchuan increasingly drifts from his position as neutral observer. He gradually becomes part of the story, like an older brother to his protagonist. In voice-over he shares his concerns, and when Ermao hits troubled waters, he’s there to help. This subjective style only adds to the story’s impact.