A prisoner is sent to a labour camp in China’s desolate northwest during the country’s Cultural Revolution. Using his wit, and with the sole purpose of seeing a newsreel containing a glimpse of his daughter, he escapes and heads for the cinema in a local town. There he hopes to find the film and get a hold of it. But on the way he comes across a young vagabond with the same desperate mission who runs away with the reel. Curiously, this enigmatic object, which both covet for very different reasons, will become the seed of an unexpected friendship.