Change and a city in China. In Chengdu, factory 420 is being pulled down to make way for multi-story buildings with luxury flats. Scenes of factory operations, of the workforce, and of buildings stripped bare and then razed, are inter-cut with workers who were born in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s telling their stories - about the factory, which manufactured military aircraft, and about their work and their lives. A middle-aged man visits his mentor, now elderly; a woman talks of being a 19-year-old beauty there and ending up alone. The film concludes with two young people talking, each the child of workers, each relaying a story of one visit to a factory. Times change.Written by
During a press conference at the 61st Cannes Film Festival for the film, Zhangke Jia, Joan Chen and Tao Zhao observed a minute of silence in memory of the victims of the 2008 devastating earthquake in China. The film was shot in Chengdu, in Sichuan province where the earthquake struck. See more »
Composed by Tokura Shunichi See more »
Glacially slow and achingly sad
Not many Chinese films obtain a release in Western cinemas. Those that do tend to be set in the distant past and have large casts, colourful costumes and exciting action - think "Hero", "House Of Flying Daggers", "Curse Of The Golden Flower" and "Red Cliff". This is not one of those movies. "24 City" is contemporary in subject, pedestrian in pacing, and documentary in style (director Jia Zhang-ke uses a mix of real characters and actors including Joan Chen).
It is set in the city of Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province in south-west China, which I visited a few weeks before seeing the film and I took along two friends from Sichuan who know the city well. It tells the terribly sad tale of the closure of a factory, which once employed 4,000 workers on the manufacture of military hardware, so that the site can be used for a modern complex of apartments and hotels - the 24 City of the title.
The unusual part documentary/part fiction style - there are five authentic interviews and four fictional scenes delivered by actors - means that the work lacks the 'bite' of a real documentary and the narrative of full fiction, but the critics liked it.
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