Chinese Filmmaker Jia Zhang-ke Takes New Approach with ’24 City’

From the Los Angeles Times:

By necessity, Jia Zhang-ke is a filmmaker who responds to current events with the instincts of a newshound. Not only is the 38-year-old director the most prominent Chinese filmmaker of his generation, he also has come to assume the role of witness and conscience in a society characterized by rapid modernization and a growing amnesia.

Jia’s recent films have been increasingly dominated by their almost surreal real-world settings. “The World” (2004) takes place largely within an actual Beijing theme park containing replicas of global tourist attractions. “Still Life,” which won the top prize at the Venice Film Festival in 2006, unfolds against the backdrop of a riverside town that is being prepared for flooding as part of the enormous Three Gorges hydroelectric project. His latest feature, “24 City,” which premiered in competition at the Cannes Film Festival on Saturday, centers on the closure of Factory 420, a sprawling state-owned industrial park in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province.

“Since 2000, I have been wanting to make a film about how workers are affected by the transition from a planned economy to a market economy in China,” he said, speaking through a translator. He knew he had found his perfect subject when he learned last year that Factory 420, a munitions plant that for six decades had specialized in the production of aviation engines, was to be replaced by a complex of luxury high-rise apartments called 24 City.

Read also Chinese film-maker focuses on how politics affects people from AFP, and “24 City” a moving elegy to modern-day China by Maggie Lee.


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