The Dwarf in China

The Dwarf in China

2014, Society  -   29 Comments
Ratings: 8.65/10 from 477 users.

Jeanmarie sits near a flowing river bank and marvels at nature's ability to inspire a feeling of solidarity and balance. This mirrors the same soothing sense of purpose he brings to his work as a globe-trotting children's performer. Documentary The Dwarf in China follows him as he travels to remote regions of the Far East in hopes of creating a bridge between cultures through the practice of mythic storytelling.

Armed with a dwarf costume, a lovingly designed barrel organ, and various waterproof accessories, Jeanmarie journeys from his home in The Netherlands to the southwest town of Kunming, China. There, he joins forces with Frank, a foreign educator who has built a strong rapport with many members of the city's pre-school population. They're anxious to see how the students react to Jeanmarie's fairy tale concerning a dwarf and the hatching of a magical golden egg.

What they find is a city in transformation. The influence of the west is starting to take hold. Modern technologies are creeping in, McDonald's restaurants are being erected in the city's bustling epicenter, and it seems inevitable that the myths and customs of older generations will wither under the strain some day soon. They hope to preserve some of that history by exposing the children to a performance piece that celebrates a mystical connection to nature and other aspects of their cultural heritage.

The filmmakers take us through the painstaking preparations for the performance, which include the creation of a musical instrument programmed specifically to reflect Chinese tradition. We're allowed a peek into the creative process, and recognize Jeanmarie as someone who cares deeply about the integrity of his show, and undergoes tremendous personal sacrifice and financial risk to see it through. We come to understand the region, and the challenges that face the children who attend its overcrowded schools. Finally, we're given a front row seat at the big event as hundreds of eager children absorb every morsel of the show's musical and narrative content.

Joyful and entrancing, The Dwarf in China profiles a truly dedicated artist, and the transformative power of his creations.

Directed by: Ben Arend Reisman

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29 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Tiara

    Loved it! So much care and love had been put into this journey and film!

  2. Daniel

    Intriguing, hart-warming, insightful and unique documentary. A must watch!

  3. Joris

    Delightful story, we're privileged to share a fraction of the passion which drives a person to cross continents and to carve his dream in wood, string and cloth. Somehow also a bit jealous of the wonder and joy of the audience, feels like many of us have lost the ability to appreciate a performance which builds on the simplicity of content more than complexity of form. And loved the children's drawings in the end credits showing the performance, very clever, as the documentary itself.

  4. Deb

    A heartwarming story of passion, creativity, and a love of children that transcends culture.

  5. Texas Grill Girl

    OMG! What a eyeopener! I always thought those Chines people where the same as North Koreans. But they are actually human. And so much beautiful nature in there country. I thought China was one big city. I feel piety for them that they don´t have so much oil in there country. Otherwise they could build better roads in those humble little villages. I´m proud to live in USA.

    1. Bill Farley

      Texas Girl, you need to spread your wings and see how the other part of the world lives. Your post really shows your limitations and is so American. And you actually believe a huge glut of oil in their country would benefit them??? Travel girl, because that will be your saving grace.

    2. zoe

      you surely do not know much about other countries, do you? North koreans are just as human as you are. they're just in an unfortunate situation. i advice you to travel some more as you seem very ignorant about any living being outside texas,

  6. Luna

    Inspiring documentary with a lot of positive energy

  7. Sharon

    Interesting to see how a man finds his way in, a to me unknown culture, to make a part of his dream come true. Beautifully captured

  8. Stijn

    Wonderful docu! Lovely narrative and you feel connected with the persons in the docu :)

  9. Marije

    Very nice!

  10. Astrid

    Beautiful and heartwarming

  11. Joyce

    Heartwarming, inspiring, authentic..

  12. Thomas

    Very nice doc. The editing makes a loveable narrative. I love how the father son relation eventually is expressed. Very touching. The camerawork as well as the scenic shots are a reason to watch it again. The doc made me look to a part of China I never saw before. It felt if I was there...

  13. Joyce

    Authentic, inspiring and heartwarming

  14. Paolo

    So touching documentary, a beautiful story ... sincerely recommended

  15. Simone

    Enjoyed the film. Great

  16. Galit

    What an amazing documentaty.
    The rest of the world should see it as well!!!
    To see those children and their faces...
    Good job Ben! You have touched my heart ❤️

  17. Truus Uiterwijk Winkel

    What a wonderful story and heartwarming to watch!

  18. GunnarInLA

    ...this is a real "documentary"'s a must see...Many supposed documentaries look more like extended news reports – not this one – it's a Wonderful and Real Documentary that you must watch. I gave it 9 stars...I have to save something for the documentary that totally floors me...but this documentary shows you things you'd never see without it...

  19. Michele Marie

    A heartfelt, visual and technical delight.
    Art is a universal language. Magic pervades this tale of yearning for connection to all beings.

  20. Marijke Dolman

    Wonderful documentary!!!Interesting to see that spectators around the world react the same to the fairy tale of the golden egg. Heartwarming and inspiring documentary! Thank you so much...

  21. Teuntje

    Thank you for such a heart and soul touching film !

  22. Andreas Ludwig

    Loved this documentary! What a gem! The main characters are so inspiring and the story is so heartwarming! One of a kind really....Thank you, Andreas.

  23. LeeJai Cook

    3-24-2017. Roaring Springs, Texas USA. Thank you so much for providing these videos. I enjoy watching them very much. And they are educational !
    Many thanks, LeeJai

  24. Steven harding

    What an inspiration they are,very good documentary, didñt get very far with the show in the end,but just to see those children's faces even once,must have been priceless thank you

  25. spaanshondje

    This shows how important art is for society . Support your local artist !!!

  26. Cinzia

    Beautiful documentary!!! To see!

  27. Bert

    Fantastic documentary! Heartwarming en beautiful storytelling! Really worth watching. (I honestly don't understand the low rating).