"Wang [Bing]'s film certainly makes you feel the time and place, with a vengeance"
½ "Whether in terms of filmmaking or indeed reality itself, it's hard to think of a more quietly radical proposition than the one Wang is making here: There's compassion to be found in even the harshest of circumstances; it's all about knowing where to look."
"Eloquent and emotionally impactful"
"Wang offers a visual critique that goes much deeper than a simple microcosm of a larger authoritarian society, and provides nuance and ambiguity as rich and as perplexing as the world itself"
"Madness is a thing to be witnessed all at a go...and its power is very much wrapped up in its ability to hold the viewer captive"
This documentary by famed filmmaker Wang Bing (West of the Tracks, Three Sisters), a typically immersive and unflinching achievement, documents the grim daily existence of the inmates of an isolated mental institution in China's Yunnan province. Somehow granted access to this normally carefully hidden world, Wang reveals a group of men, of various ages, backgrounds, and mental states, who are confined to the locked floors of a single building, with seemingly minimal supervision. Holed up in the squalid, urban asylum, Wang's nearly four-hour documentary closely observes its cast-off subjects' often unfathomable behaviors, inscribed with an uncanny blend of voyeurism and empathy. Some of them are there because they are truly mentally ill; others perhaps have committed crimes or displeased some authority, or were denounced and abandoned by their families, or simply do not fit in anywhere else. But once inside, they all share the same life and cramped living quarters, staring at a barren, iron-fenced courtyard and seeking comfort and human warmth wherever they can find it. With great compassion and unflinching lucidity, Wang Bing immerses us in the lives of people who have been forgotten by society.
Directed by Wang Bing, Hong Kong/France/Japan, 2013, 228 mins. In Mandarin and Yunnan dialect with English subtitles.
- Fri., June 24 at 6 pm
- Sat., June 25 at 5:30 pm
- Sun., June 26 at 5:30 pm
- Mon.Thurs., June 2730 at 6 pm
$10 general admission
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For all Cinémathèque inquiries, contact Charles Coleman at 773.281.9075 or firstname.lastname@example.org.