Taming the Horse
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    Taming the Horse

    Xun Ma

    Directed by

    Canada, China


    129 min

    • English
    • Chinese


    DOK Leipzig

    Growing up on the wind-blown plains of Inner Mongolia, Dong developed an unbridled spirit and a belief in the virtues of simple living. When his family, like millions of others during China’s economic reform, migrated south seeking opportunity, Dong’s spirited ideals were at odds with the values of a rapidly modernizing society in the early throws of consumerist frenzy. More than a decade later, Dong is a dreamer who has lost his way, a loser in derision, spiritually alienated and socially troubled—a listless young adult battling bouts of depression and substance abuse without a sense of place or purpose in his own society.

    When an old friend and filmmaker returns to the city with a video camera in hand on the eve of Dong’s 30th birthday, something in him stirs and he begins pouring out his most intimate thoughts. Over the course of a year, filmmaker Tao Gu accompanies Dong in his struggles with family and society, sex and love, identity and survival as a young man in modern China. The resulting portrait is of a difficult and divisive young man; a sympathetic record on the human condition in contemporary China; a raw cry for truth, a longing for a better life.


    • Grand Prize (Canadian Competition) - RIDM
    • Grand Prize Montgolfière d’or - Festival des 3 continents



    Tao Gu
    Xun Yu
    Tao Gu


    Taming the Horse transmits the energy imbued with hopelessness of Chinese youth trying to find its way between the lost paradise of childhood and a brutal confrontation with the reality of adulthood.

    Emmanuel Chicon, Visions du Reel

    An uncompromising portrait of a tortured soul whose ideals have been stolen.


    This film is both: unceremonial and unerring; intuitive and planned.

    Lukas Stern, Filmexplorer

    Tao Gu

    Tao Gu


    Tao Gu started his artistic endeavor as an experimental radio host in China in 1998 and pursued that successful career for over 5 years. He started exploring different mediums and acted in the leading roll in a fictional documentary Foggy Valley , which received the Academic Prize by the Chinese Documentary Association in 2003. He also worked as a sound designer for the documentary Green Jade Station, which was presented at the Amsterdam International Film Festival in 2004. His first directing work was an avant-garde stage drama “Evenfall YA LA SO” presented to the public in China in 2003, which received great critical acclaim. Upon his arrival in Canada, his cinematic work shifted towards experimental filmmaking. His 2008 film Butterfly Dream has been selected by numerous international film festivals, including the 36th Festival du Nouveau Cinema, 10th Boston Underground Film Festival and the 26th Rendez-vous du Cinéma Québécois.