Hong Kong/China, 2006, 108 min, Dir. Jia Zhang-ke, Not Rated, Mandarin with English subtitles, Big World Pictures
"Elegantly photographed. Sublime, soulful art. A modern master of postmodern discontent, Jia Zhang-ke is among the most strikingly gifted filmmakers working today." —Manohla Dargis, The New York Times
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Still Life is an empathetic portrait of those left behind by a modernizing society and a unique hybrid of documentary and fiction. Great changes have come to the town of Fengjie due to the construction of the Three Gorges hydro project: Countless families that had lived there for many generations have had to relocate to other cities. Fengjie’s old town, which has a 2000-year history, has been torn down and submerged forever, but its new neighborhood hasn’t been finished yet. There are still things that need to be salvaged and yet there are also things that must be left behind. In the film, such life-changing choices face both Sanming, a miner traveling to Fengjie in search of his ex-wife of sixteen years, and Shen Hong, a nurse who has come to Fengjie to look for her husband who she hasn’t seen in two years. Both Sanming and Shen will find who they’re looking for, but in the process they too will have to decide what is worth salvaging in their lives and what they need to let go of.
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