This week on dGenerate we will be featuring articles related to Zhao Liang’s acclaimed documentary Crime and Punishment to coincide with the screening of his films at Anthology Film Archives in New York City. Click here for more information on the screenings.
By Ariella Tai
Photo by Du Bin for The New York Times
Across China, the New York Times reports, governments have taken a rather blunt approach towards building a better public image for their urban law enforcers: hiring prettier ones. Chengguan, a special class of police, have become known for their willingness to utilize clubbing, thrashing and other forms of abuse in their efforts to discipline and maintain social order in recent years. In an attempt to improve this poor public image for the force, district officials in Chengdu have called for females between the ages of 18-22, with good figures and “orderly facial features” to serve, essentially, as decorations, or “flower vases…[with] other responsibilities]” according to an unnamed official. These female officers enjoy a limited tenure that ends at age 26, and lack even the power to confiscate the goods of the peddlers they are daily responsible for chasing into their assigned alleyways. Instead they serve in a supporting capacity, able only to threaten offenders with a report to their male supervisor.
This absurd aspect to Chinese law enforcement recalls Zhao Liang’s 2007 documentary, Crime and Punishment, which documents the daily lives of underworked military police on the border of North Korea. During an unforgiving winter, officers rigidly enforce law and order. They raid a private residence to bust an illegal mahjong game, casually abuse a pickpocket accused of throwing away evidence, and berate a confession out of a scrap collector working without a permit. The police switch between precise investigative procedure, explosions of violent fury, and moments of comic ineptitude, all captured incredibly before the camera.
We are proud to announce that Crime and Punishment will be presented on the big screen at the Anthology Film Archives. There will be showings Jan 13 at 6:45 & 9:15, and then one each on Sat and Sun, Jan 15 & 16 at 4:00.
Check here for more details. View a trailer below.