11 September 2009
The “Great Sichuan Earthquake” took place at 14:28 on May 12, 2008. 10 days after: Scenes not seen on official/TV, “survival” is the keyword. Ordinary people are salvaging destroyed pig farms in the mountains, recuperating cents-worth scrapped metals, or pillaging victims’ homes. Behind the highly-mediatized official visits, inconsolable grief of families searching for loved ones. Throughout, a vagabond in tattered clothes wanders among the ruins, observing tragic scenes. A monk and a Taoist visionary suggest: “the earthquake is the consequence of Earth-Gods no longer worshipped.” 210 days after: Harsh winter, villagers preparing for Lunar New Year, the Vagabond and family are detailing grievances about the ill-handling of rebuilding schemes and relief funds. Gearing up for a high official’s visit, comes a thorough clean-up of the villages and tent-resettlement for refugees. Promise made for all to live in houses in winter seems tough to keep. Fake parts in the community transformer brought electricity blackout for New Year’s Eve reunion dinners. New Year Day starts as never-ending parade of tourists buying DVDs of the most horrific scenes, souvenir albums of corpses being pulled out of the ruins, and photo taking in front of BeiChuan, the town most severely hit, where over 70000 people perished in seconds.
※ "Best Documentary" in the Horizon Section of the 66th Venice Film Festival
※ "Special Concern Award" of the 28th French Environmental Film Festival International Competition Unit, 2010
※ The 9th Vienna International Film Festival
※ The 28th Vancouver Film Festival
※ The 6th Hong Kong Asian Film Festival
※ The 1st Hong Kong Asian Independent Film Festival
※ The 46th Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival
※ The 6th Dubai International Film Festival
※ Screening at the 12th Swiss Black Film Festival
※ The 32nd French Real Film Festival Competition Unit
※ MOMA documentary biweekly exhibition screening 2010
※ Croatia ZagrebDox 2010 Competition Unit
※ The 10th Southern Film Festival "Southern Award-Chinese Film Competition"
※ Shortlisted for the 28th French Environmental Film Festival International Competition Unit (2010/11)
※ French Shadows film festival screening 2010/11
※ The 2nd Sino-German Documentary Film Forum, screening
Nearly 100,000 people dead, countless buildings/bridges/roads ruined. Lots of touching stories of people offering help from all over and mourning innocent victims. Yet, disaster brought out also demons in Man’s nature, nakedly transparent. Among aftershocks in the ruins are abuses of the collective system, mistrust between people and local governments, betrayal among survivors… I couldn’t help but record this absurd reality that I didn’t want to see nor would the mainstream media record.
New seeds sown, destroyed houses rebuilt, even lost lives can be replaced by new births. But limits of human nature will drag humanity down if we fail to confront and reflect on our behaviour. Pain could be eased, memories could fade, but disaster may come again…
I am dedicating this film in condolence of those passed away.
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