24 City / Er shi si cheng ji Series: 46th New York Film Festival [Sept. 26 – Oct. 12, 2008] Director: Jia Zhangke, Country: China/Hong Kong/Japan, Release: 2008, Runtime: 112
The dean of Chinese independent cinema, Jia Zhangke is a poet of facts. Jia’s latest bulletin on the state of the world’s most rapidly expanding economy is more obviously documentary than the director’s previous fiction films — or perhaps more obviously fictional than his documentaries.
24 City takes as its subject a gigantic Chengdu munitions plant slated for conversion into high-rise luxury apartments. A half-dozen retired workers, brought from all over China to labor in the massive factory, play themselves as the (barely) living monuments of Mao’s China, their stories supplemented by monologues delivered by several professional actors, including Joan Chen.
Jia’s framing is, as always, impeccable. His oral history of post-revolutionary China (and subversively old-fashioned hymn to industrial production) is artfully composed, rich in offbeat details and punctuated with pop songs, including the Internationale. An ambivalent exercise in Communist nostalgia as well as a moving collective portrait.
A Cinema Guild release.
b. 1970, Fenyang, Shanxi, China
2008 Cry Me a River (short) NYFF
2006 Still Life
2004 The WorldNYFF
2002 Unknown Pleasures
1997 Pickpocket (Xiao wu)ND/NF
1995 Xiaoshan huijia