Zuotian (2001) - Synopsis

In the late 80’s a new film star, Jia Hongsheng, emerged in China. Labeled “the thug idol,” he gained fame playing gangsters and heroes in a series of Chinese B-movies. Jia went on to star in a stage version of “The Kiss of the Spider Woman” directed by Zhang Yang and soon became the actor of choice for Chinese sixth generation filmmakers such as Wang Xiaoshuai (“Beijing Bicycle”) and Lou Ye. He had his first experience with drugs on the set of “The Kiss of the Spiderwoman.”

Jia’s naturally fragile mental/psychological state coupled with his experimentation with drugs gradually led him into a state of despair. He stopped acting and cut himself off entirely from all his friends, locking himself in an apartment listening to tapes of his favorite music over and over again.

Jia’s parents were members of a small theater troupe in a small town in Northeast China. Overjoyed by their son’s success and distraught at his addiction, they left the troupe that they had been members of their whole lives, packed up all their belongings (literally bed, TV, furniture and everything they owned) and traveled to Beijing to be with their son.

Every character in “Quitting” is played by a real person who was part of Jia Hongsheng’s life. The film seeks to be unflinchingly realistic in its portrayal of its characters and the early 90’s as a historical period.

“Quitting” explores one man’s journey, from the cutting edge of China’s artistic movement in the early 90’s, through a period of conflict with himself and his parents, to a mental institution and finally to the quest to rediscover himself and his family.