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Documentary screenings at Beijing Iberia Center This Weekend

Last Lumberjacks (dir. Yu Guangyi)

Organized by Indie Workshop, Non-Profit Incubator (NPI) and the Iberia Center for Contemporary Art, the Eyes on the World series, running April 16-20, examines significant social issues facing contemporary China through the lens of these ten documentary films. These screenings will take place at the Iberia Center for Contemporary Art in the 798 Art District in Beijing.

Full list of films after the break (Screening times are not listed – check ICCA website for more info):

Mr. Jia and His Friends, on aging society. Director: Zi Han

Lao Jia, an 84-year-old ex-cadre, whose wife died 8 years ago, has been employing the services of a matchmaking agency for three years in the hopes of finding someone who is young and pretty, and for that reason he lies to people that he is 30 years younger than his real age. “Gan Ma”, a 77-year-old elderly woman, whose husband deceased 2 years ago, is very popular at the agency and has lots of admirers. This place has flared hope in these seniors’ remaining years of life, as they feel the greatest happiness is to be able to share with someone their stories of loneliness, health, sentiments and memory.

The Last Lumberjacks, on deforestation. Director: Yu Guangyi

It documents a group of lumberjacks’ real life in Heilongjiang Province. Forest exploitation has a hundred years history in this area. Because of inconveniency caused by poor traffic, they still use the old way to work. The film presents, in the world of ice and snow, the lumberjack community’s work, living situation, and their relationship with the nature. The documentation of this disappearing working and living style will be a kind of preservation of the development of the human civilization.

Utopia, on charity house. Director: Wang Yiren

About twenty years ago, Jilin city built a charity house in a remote valley, where more than 20 patients either with mental diseases or with physical handicaps live away from other villages. Those patients form a utopia commune, where members open up wasteland, grow vegetables, make meals, and take care of each other. Still the place is called “vill of the fools” by local people. Three couples’ everyday lives are portrayed in the film.

Looking for Yuan Xueyu, on protection of the minors. Director: Dou Jiangming

Yuan Xueyu, a 15-year-old youth, left home working with his country fellows at a factory in the suburb of Zhengzhou city, but was found missing only ten days or so later. Clues show that he is possibly kidnapped to Shanxi Province. His father Yuan Cheng abandoned his farm work and kept looking for his son in the past two years, during which he saved some young slave labors, but never got his son back.

Lao Ma and His Family, on water shortage. Director: Zha Xiaoyuan

The film unfolds life imagery of a traditional rug-weaver Lao Ma and his family, who live in a poor village at Haiyuan County, Xi Haigu District, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. It faithfully records current living condition of peasants in poor mountain area, including all facets in their everyday life and work: a profession closely tied to tradition, economic difficulties brought by marriage and child delivery, direct influence on farming industry due to the shortage of water resource, working experience away from home, etc.

Wuding River, on school attendance and career choice. Director: Li Xiaofeng

In Northern Shaanxi Province, farmers making a living as tricycle drivers in big cities claim themselves sufferers. They go through untold hardships and manage to send their kids to universities far away. While older kids cannot find a job four years later upon graduation, their younger children are facing college entrance exams again. It seems to be by instinct – the whole family, just like a brooding hen, chooses to believe new changes will eventually happen in their life.

Using (dir. Zhou Hao)

Using, on drug abuse. Director: Zhou Hao

The director gets to know two ‘friends’, and the film organizes around their ‘getting along’. At the very beginning, he didn’t have the plan to make a documentary film. However, he turns into making ‘friend’ with them on purpose later on. The ‘friends’ miraculously allow the director to enter into their lives, their lives of drug taking and dealing. Ah Long initially thought he is a kind of man who is hard to be influenced. His story seems to present the common trace of drug addiction; certainly, it can be just his own story as well.

The Transition Period, on life of civil servants. Director: Zhou Hao

In recent years, most officials in China mainland are confronted with two major problems: how to attract investment and facilitate local economy; and how to dissolve various social contradictions accompanying the modernization and development. This film narrates stories that happen in the course of three months before a secretary of CPC in County Committee leaves his post.

School, on child psychology. Director: Wei Tie

On the playground of Guangchang Road Primary School hundreds of children are running wild and playing games. I watch them from my balcony for a long time, deeply attracted by the youthful faces of the students: some of them are practicing waist drums in the burning sun; some are given corporal punishment by young teachers; and some are sweating in Ping Pong games down the balcony. Something in them fascinates me and I once was one of them.

Aoluguya, Aoluguya, on minority ethnic groups. Director: Gu Tao

In Great Khingan Mountains of the northern China, the legendary Ewenkis people live on hunting and raising reindeers for generations, a traditional life of their own. Since 2003, hunting is prohibited and they moved out of mountains into the new settlements built by the government. Without the forest and shotguns, Ewenkis people are now deeply at a loss. Some of them return to the mountains and resume their traditional way of life.


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