China, 1902. Arranged marriages, operatic customs, it's all about tradition. In comes a Brit with a motion picture machine that affects a young, intelligent native so much he is willing to risk disgrace among his peers in order to record life as it is before it changes. It's all based on a true story, even if the name of this first foreign filmmaker is still unknown.

Shadow Magic epically reveals the drive for creation amidst a society fearful of change. Liu (Xia Yu) works as the key photographer in a picture studio run by Master Ren (Liu Peiqi). He is always getting himself into trouble, playing with gadgets so that he arrives late for his job. Ren is patient with him because he is talented and reminds him of his own youth.

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