A Yangtze Landscape
Cinema du Reel International Documentary Film Festival
Vancouver International Film Festival
Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival
Olhar de Cinema - Curitiba International Film Festival
Perugia Social Film Festival
Lima Independent Film Festival
"Rich black-and-white widescreen photography and an equally rich soundscape work together to traverse seemingly the whole of China within the span of a few hours. An incredible survey of human faces and bodies is cataloged along the way, giving a universal sense of humanity." -- Olhar de Cinema
This awe-inspiring, epic documentary reflects on the grandeur and melancholy of the Yangtze River, from the port of Shanghai to its source in Tibet, as a poignant metaphor for the violence and chaos of contemporary China.
'Filmmaker Xu Xin (徐辛), born close to the Yangtze, transforms the river into an immense tracking rail stretching several thousand kilometres. This gentle journey and the contemplative tone of the black-and-white are immediately undermined by the neon sign on a Shanghai skyscraper insisting: “You can and must obey the law.” The Yangtze, dubbed a Mother River under Mao, is revealed as a synecdoche of the country as intertitles pointing up recent events appear along the river’s course. The stops are opportunities to draw the portraits of isolated locals scavenging in dustbins after the New Year festivities. In the old village of Datong, a destitute carpenter struggles to saw a plank, a remnant of the industrial gestures of this local capital formerly known as Little Shanghai. Here it is the landscape that reveals the ravages of History; Even the fisherman named Cai Liesheng, who had his nets shredded by a dredging crane and was maimed because he attempted to protest, scans the distant horizon silently. This silence lends unsuspected breadth to the human cost of industrialization, patent in the region of the Three Gorges Dam, where whole villages have been wiped off the map. The litany of tragedies makes us aware of the massive number of sacrificed lives and, politically speaking, it is no accident that the journey terminates at the river’s source – in Tibet.' (Charlotte Garson)
156 minutes, in Mandarin with English subtitles. 2017
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