Insights from Asia
China (PRC), Hong Kong / 2006 / Sichuan dialogue with English subtitles / Colour / HDCam / 108 minutes
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With Platform (2000) and The World (2004), Jia Zhang-ke emerged as one of cinema's great contemporary directors, able to capture a strong sense of the rapid changes transforming China. Still Life is set in the mountainous landscape of the Three Gorges on the Yangtze, now scarred by housing projects and industrialization, and one of the world's most ambitious hydro-electric dams, which involves the destruction of ancient home and enormous social upheaval. Against this brilliantly filmed backdrop, which has such a strong presence that it becomes a character, Jia sets parallel stories about a tough demolition labourer (real-life labourer Han Sanming), and a middle-class woman, Shen Hong (regular Jia actress Zhao Tao). Each has come to the Three Gorges in search of a partner they have not seen for years, separated by the need to find work. The labourer moves towards re-marriage, while the woman finally reveals a wish for divorce. Jia beautifully observes life continuing as the world around changes. Still Life won the Golden Lion at Venice and was made simultaneously with a documentary about the Three Gorges, Dong.


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