The Road (image 1)

“If people obstruct the construction with no reason, we must strike back without mercy and arrest them if needed.”

Screened as part of NZIFF 2016

The Road 2015

Directed by Zhang Zanbo

This doco provides an astonishingly revealing picture of the construction of a section of China’s massive Xu-Huai Highway, as seen by dislocated locals, exploited migrant workers and the embattled construction company.

China/Denmark In Mandarin with English subtitles
95 minutes DCP
Exempt

Director/Photography/ Sound

Producer

Richard Liang

Editors

Zhang Zanbo
,
Steen Johannessen
,
Jean Tsien

Festivals

Amsterdam Documentary 2015

For almost four years, Chinese filmmaker Zhang Zanbo documented the construction of a massive highway through a rural district in Hunan Province. Organising his often startling up-close footage into chapters, he reveals a project rife with corruption, violence and cynicism. His success in showing events from the conflicting perspectives of three constantly skirmishing sectors makes this a singularly comprehensive indictment. Dislocated peasants see their homes literally dynamited, and clamour for compensation. Migrant workers regularly risk their lives for paydays that never seem to arrive. Fending off their demands, the embattled construction company also juggles dubious alliances with local Party officials, police and gangsters. Through it all, a gargantuan new symbol of Chinese industrial power takes shape to cut a swathe across mountain and valley. Whether it will pass safety requirements or even conform to legal construction standards is anybody’s guess when government building inspectors arrive. Or are they too persuadable? Director Zhang has himself suggested that the title might not refer just to the Xu-Huai Highway, but also to the road taken by China.