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Jia Zhangke returns to the documentary form after his recent run of fiction films (A Touch of SinAsh Is Purest White) in this look at modern Chinese history as seen through the experiences of three of its greatest living writers. A literary festival held in Jia’s native Shanxi Province provides the backdrop as writers Jia Pingwa, Yu Hua, and Liang Hong recount their childhoods, early careers, and inspirations. Their stories move from the upheavals of the Cultural Revolution to the consumerist rush of the twenty-first century, and illuminate an often overlooked aspect of Chinese life: the connection between intellectual thought and working-class labor. “Our starting point was to film at the festival, and we soon realized that we were experiencing not only a journey in contemporary Chinese literature, but also a journey into the spiritual history of the Chinese people,” Jia notes. “Their journeys are very similar, but each footprint deserves to be remembered.”


—Jason Sanders

  • Year
    2020
  • Runtime
    112 minutes
  • Language
    Mandarin
  • Country
    China
  • Director
    Jia Zhangke
  • Screenwriter
    Jia Zhangke, Wan Jiahuan
  • Cinematographer
    Yu Lik-wai