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Zhao Liang’s <i>Petition</i> and <i>Crime and Punishment</i> Screening at Anthology Film Archi

We’re excited that the work of one of the preeminent filmmakers in China, Zhao Liang, will be showcased next week at the Anthology Film Archives in New York City. Zhao’s acclaimed, independently-produced documentaries Petition and Crime and Punishment will enjoy a week of screenings starting Thursday January 13 through Thursday, January 20. Screening details below, as well as on the dGenerate Films event page.

“Zhao Liang captures those sides of life that are ignored by official politics and, in so doing, acts as a chronicler of everyday life. Futility, running idle, stubbornness, and stamina are motifs shared by all of his films, while the dramatic consequences of the rapid economic and structural transformation in China constitute the continuous backdrop to his work.” (Quoted from the catalogue of the 2008 Berlin Biennial)

Anthology Film Archives 32 Second Avenue New York, NY

Tickets may be purchased at the box office on date of screening.

Details on each film and screening times after the break.

Crime and Punishment In Mandarin with English subtitles, 2007, 122 minutes, video

Thursday, Jan. 13 at 6pm and 9pm Saturday, Jan. 15 at 4pm Sunday, Jan 16 at 4pm

Winner of the International Human Rights Award at the Nuremberg Film Festival, Best Documentary at France’s Festival des Trois Continents, and awarded Best Director by One World International Human Rights Documentary, Variety critic Robert Koehler calls Crime and PunishmentStunning“.

On the North Korean border, Chinese military police enforce the law with a heavy hand, leading to moments of harrowing abuse and surreal satire. Amidst the barren wintry landscape of Northeast China, Chinese military police officers rigidly enforce law and order in an impoverished mountain town. 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.

Petition Friday, Jan. 14 through Thursday Jan. 20 6:30pm and 9:30pm

Petition, filmed over the course of more than 10 years, is among the very finest documentaries to be produced in China. Since 1996, Zhao has documented the ‘petitioners’ who come from all over China to make complaints in Beijing about abuses committed by their local authorities. Gathered near the complaint offices, living in most cases in makeshift shelters, the complainants wait for months or years to obtain justice. Peasants thrown off their land, workers from factories which have gone into liquidation, small homeowners who have seen their houses demolished but received no compensation, they pursue justice with unceasing stubbornness, facing the most brutal intimidation and most often finding that their hopes are in vain. Unfolding like a novel by Zola or Dickens, but with the existential absurdity of Beckett, PETITION reveals the persistent contradictions of China in the midst of powerful economic expansion.

“Zhao’s quietly probing exposé is a moving paean to grassroots resistance that flourishes despite the bureaucracy’s seeming indifference to the plight of ‘common people.’ … [A] seamless, and impassioned, example of revivified cinéma vérité. … Zhao modulates the misery beautifully by editing the film in a fashion that approaches lyricism but never degenerates into didacticism.” –Richard Porton, CINEASTE


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