Singing in the Wilderness takes place in a utopian mountaintop village of Southwest China. Ping and Sheng are two idealist young Miaos that belong to an ethnic minority known for worshipping nature, freedom and spirituality. In the 1930s, western missionaries brought Christianity. Since then, the beautiful voices of a Christian choir singing classical European hymns prevail the mountains. But then, a Propaganda official accidentally discovers the choir and decides to turn it into a national sensation.
Ping is the beauty of the village, who’s curious about the outside world. Sheng is a missionary to be, who yearns for a life devoted to God without being disturbed by external desires.
Their isolated life path is about to take a dramatic twist as County Propaganda Minister Zhang’s ambitious plan for the choir becomes unstoppable. Together with the villagers, Ping and Sheng step out of the mountains for the first time.
Tourists flock to the village. Everyone is attracted to Ping’s beauty and fights to take her photos. Ping enjoys the camera flashes and she can’t have enough of the outside world. While in the city, She gets on the internet and falls in love.She soon leaves the choir to marry.
While Ping is more tempted to take on a new life path, Sheng resists any change. But his wife who is also a choir member, has a growing anxiety to live a better life as fame is bringing the villagers more opportunities than ever. Day by day the couple live together in complete silence.
The development of the village is irreversible. The Miao start to sell their land to developers who aim to build the village into a tourist town. It becomes difficult to organize rehearsals because villagers are busy with making money. Sheng becomes an outsider in his own marriage and community.
Ping’s husband calls Christianity a superstition and wants to keep Ping a housewife at home. However, tempted by the success of Ping’s old choir, another official from her husband’s village asks Ping to organize a new choir, hoping to bring in commercial values too. But Ping’s wish to sing again was soon crushed by her husband.
On the wild mountaintop where faith, politics and love merge, the story takes another twist when the choir travels internationally. We hope the film raises questions for all of us who are passively caught in the dilemma of money and meaning, past and present, minority and majority nowadays, and for us who share the same confusions with the protagonists who long for the sense of spiritual values and fulfilment in a world filled with desires.