Directed by Jia Zhang-ke. 2006.
Set in the
Fengjie, since submerged in water to make way for the dam, Jia's
class-conscious effort dramatizes the life of villagers who have been
from their homes, had their traditional way of life destroyed, and sent
to live in cities against their will, often having to resort to begging
and garbage collecting, or even prostitution to stay alive. The film,
with its companion documentary Dong, tells overlapping stories of the
trauma of local people caught in the dislocation at Fengjie while a new
village is being built.
In the first
Han Sanming, a middle-aged coal miner from Jia's home Shanxi province,
arrives on a ferry to look for his ex-wife, Missy after sixteen years
estrangement. All he has to rely on is an address given to him many
ago, completely unaware of the demolition and flooding in the area.
local swindlers, he tracks down Missy's uncle who tells him that his
wife is now in Yichang with his teenage daughter. Staying on to work in
the demolition projects, Han engages in conversations with other
who complain of the low wages they are receiving (60 to 70 Yuan a day)
and want to return to Shanxi province with Han where they can earn 200
Yuan a day working in the dangerous coal mines.
second story, Shen
Hong (Zhao Tao), a nurse arrives from Shanxi as well and is also
for a missing person, her husband Guo Bin, who left the family two
ago. She is aided in her search by archaeologist Wang Dongming but it
uncertain what course of action Shen has in mind when she reunites with
her husband. The film, however, is not about the story line but about
landscape and the atmosphere, playfully charged by the CG appearance of
a UFO and a spaceship that takes off in the middle of the
Life, Jia demonstrates
to the world how one of China's most gorgeous areas, one that brings in
1.3 million tourists a year, has become a scene of squalor. Jia says:
all know there is major change going on in China and I wanted to get
people to know what's happening. I will continue to make films along
lines and explore the problems of the weaker social classes." If Jia's
future projects contain the unmatched cinematography, compelling story,
and characters whose lives touch us as Still Life, we have much to look
Seen at the
International Film Festival (VIFF) 2006.
McDonald's review of Still Life here.
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