A documentary about hope. Running through the Silk Road town of Hotan in western China, the Yurungkash River dries up during the winter, exposing a bed of stones rubbed smooth by Himalayan snow water. By a quirk of geology, among these stones is one the world’s most valuable gemstones: Jade. 40 times more valuable then gold, Hotan is one of the few places on earth to find Jade. Partly observational, partly impressionistic, the film describes a day in the life of the Muslim community hoping to strike it rich. A hope rarely fulfilled. Their relentless, backbreaking, Sisyphean efforts result in little success. China’s Wild West eschews politics and portrays the lives, hopes and expectations of a group of simple, spiritual people who – in more ways than might first be obvious – represent us all.
Urszula Pontikos is a graduate of the National Film and Television School. She is Polish-born, London-based cinematographer/director and stills photographer. With a continuing career in feature film drama she is also currently developing a feature length documentary which will expand the themes of “China’s Wild West”, but this time across several continents.