Focusing on the Three Gorges Dam, China's most exciting young director, Jia Zhang-ke (Platform, The World), delivers yet another sublime meditation on the country's ceaseless progress.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2007
With the exquisite Still Life, Jia Zhang-ke continues the dream run that has made him China's most exciting young director. As with The World, he has set his new drama in a dynamic landscape ripe for allegory yet grounded n tactile, everyday reality: the vanishing cities of the Three Gorges region. The massive Three Gorges Dam project demands the gradual evacuation and demolition of entire cities, and there's a highly charged compression and desperation to the lives lived between low skies and high waters. We follow two new arrival from Shanxi, both looking for displaced partners amidst the chaos and rubble. Their back-stories are revealed piecemeal, and we get to know the protagonists through their actions long before we discover what's really driving them. We are also shown – rather than being told – how life goes on in such an aritifical environment. Jia's realism is embodied by the harsh clarity of digital video, but here DV becomes breathtakingly expressive, and the film delivers striking pictorial effects. — Andrew Langridge