Ming survived the famine that killed his parents during China's 'Great Leap Forward', and lives a hard but adequate life, working in the fields.
When a group of city boys comes to the village as part of a Communist Party re-education program, Ming and his friends aren't sure what to make of the new arrivals. They're not used to hard labour and village life. But despite his reservations, Ming befriends a charming city boy called Li. The two couldn't be more different, but slowly they form a bond over evening swims and shared dreams.
But as the bitterness of life under the Party begins to take its toll on both boys, they begin to imagine the impossible: freedom.