This film represents a powerful statement by prominent Sixth Generation filmmaker Wang Xiaoshuai who bills himself as Wu Ming (it means no name). It is simultaneously a philosophical exploration of what it means to be an artist and a condemnation of a government that strictly enforces its 1996 ban on independent filmmaking.
Performance artist Qi Lei's obsession with death, coupled with his frustration over a materialistic modern Chinese society and a government that stifles independent artistic expression, leads him to devise his latest cycle of pieces. The first two show him dying by drowning and by immolation.
His third and final performance will have him slowly freezing himself to death. His lover Shao Yun and his family try to stop him, but the determined Qi will not give up his plans. With the help of a few art students, he performs the first two pieces. Officially considered dead, Qi hides out and begins observing life in the world without him.
Nothing he sees inspires hope. Because of the ban, the film was shot in Beijing, but the post-production work was done in the Netherlands.