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In the winter, the Uighur—a Muslim ethnic minority in Western China—leave their farmlands to pick at a river bed in Xinjiang in the meager hope of uncovering valuable white jade. An unidentified narrator relates maybe-apocryphal stories of fortune-changing discoveries over scenes of arduous, wordless labor. Urszula Pontikos’ haunting compositions of soon-to-be-old men wandering and toiling in a desolate, lunar landscape offer what’s either a moving comment on human aspiration or a devastating portrait of futility. Either way, you’re visiting someplace you probably haven’t been.
On Wednesday, June 17, at 6 p.m.; also on Thursday, June 18, at 2:30 p.m. at AFI Silver Theatre.