(Er shi si cheng ji)
Joan Chen, Lu Liping, Zhao Tao, Chen Jianbin,
Jia Zhangke’s exquisite documentary/fiction hybrid examines a Chinese factory-city being dismantled to make way for luxury apartment houses. Its workers, many of whom have spent their entire lives within the confines of the factory’s shops, schools, and dormitories, narrate how its walls have come to embody China’s modern history. For Jia, “history is always a blend of fact and imagination.” Fictionalized monologues, based on workers’ experiences but delivered by actors such as Joan Chen and Zhao Tao, are interwoven with real-life testimonies charting the factory’s activities from the Korean War to the present day: stories of political engagement, love, regret, and regeneration. What emerges is an elegy to a bygone city whose physical structures may be erased by the march of capitalist development, but whose memories live on.