THE CONCRETE REVOLUTION
Selection of Reviews
"We are not just good at destroying the old world, but also at building the new one," announced Mao Tse-tung many years ago. But even he could not have foreseen the extent to which China is fulfilling his words at the beginning of the 21st century. Award-winning Chinese filmmaker and novelist Xiaolu Guo leads a playful, intriguing tour through Beijing, symbol of the 'New China'.
With a cameraman and a sound engineer at her side, the Chinese filmmaker Xiaolu Guo walks through Beijing. She shows how the old China is rapidly crumbling away, how house after house is demolished to make room for the new China, which is put up in concrete. The official website of the capital warns tourists not to trust old city maps, because the city changes every day. Of course it does: of the twelve million people who live here, one million are construction workers. The favourite hangout of Xiaolu and her crew is the largest construction site in the city, where the preparations for the 2008 Olympic Games are well under way. The construction workers work long hours and still have three months pay outstanding, but they only admit this when the foreman is not around. China still has one foot in the old system, but uses the other to step outside. The Chinese are proud of their yellow skin, they make up the largest population in the world, everybody is learning English, they have brought in the 2008 Olympics and recently the Shenzhou rocket was launched into space. “The 21st century is the century of the Chinese.” We have been warned.
Chinese writer and documentary filmmaker Xiaol Guo has created a visually rich and imaginative film essay on the character of contemporary China, whose polished appearance has been created at the expense of the suffering of ordinary people. Part objective documentary, part personal essay, ‘Concrete Revolution’ charts the changing face of Beijing, site of 2008 Olympic Games by examining the enormous social cost of development in contemporary China. Unfolding in an innovative visual style, this documentary is a powerful commentary on the hidden effects of modernisation, and the Chinese Government’s role in the disappearance of ancient traditions as it strives to present a modern face to the world.
It is a powerful statement that has not yet been heard in the United States. Who is building the new China and what are their hopes and dreams in the country with the largest population in the world. Novelist and filmmaker Xiaolu’s works touch universal themes and through her film we see the humanity and warmth of the Chinese working people.
This symbol of the "New China" is built by hand by approximately one million laborers traveling for work mainly from the poorer villages. A number of them have not yet received their wages after several months, while their families wait desperately for the money. All of this is part of the transformation of Peking into a modern metropolis with a Western character. Young Chinese writer and documentary filmmaker Xiaolu Guo has succeeded in creating a visually rich and imaginative film essay on the character of contemporary China, whose polished appearance has been created at the expense of the suffering of ordinary people. The film is interlaced with playfully generalized passages of the turning points in Chinese history, ironic and bitterly humorous commentary of the other side of the "Chinese miracle," and also the high-quality mixed soundtrack by Matt Scott.
The 3rd INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS FILM FESTIVAL of Paris which took place from March 23rd to April 5th awarded its Grand Prix to "The Concrete Revolution" from Xiaolu Guo (China, 2004 - Xiaolu Guo / Téléimages). A very personal film essay which discusses the human price currently being paid on building the new China.
|© 2004 - 2008 Xiaolu Guo|