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Choreographer Zhao Liang is on a quest to find meaning in a fast-paced modern China where to stop in order to think means falling behind in the rat-race. Faced with potentially ruinous debts, he is tempted by the call of life as a buddhist monk.
Lead male actor and dancer Qiu Qiu is burdened by the fame of his grandfather, a famous Peking Opera icon. He feels he can never live up to that standard and faces the choice of carrying on along the path his ancestors, or rebelling and forging a completely new one, made to mesure his own aspirations. Finally, lead female dancer Li Nan is very reluctantly on a search for meaning in modern China.
The film focusses on a generation who have turned their back on politics and social change and search for new directions. Guided by three complex, joyful and charismatic dancers, each trying to find their way, Escaping the Temple shows a China not well-known to the West. A new vision where ancient beliefs and culture are in violent contrast to the moral and spiritual vacuum of modern day capitalism.