24 City

Part of: Movies and performances at Strelka


24 City

directed by Zhang Ke Jia

China-Hong Kong-Japan, 2008, 112 min

The film follows three generations of characters in Chengdu (in the 1950s, the 1970s and the present day) as a state-owned factory gives way to a modern apartment complex. The film’s narrative style is described by critics as a blend of fictional and documentary storytelling, and it consist of five authentic interviews and four fictional scenes delivered by actors (but presented in a documentary format). 24 City made its debut shown in competition for the Palme d’Or at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival. Film Comment, official journal of the Film Society of Lincoln Center listed the film at the end of 2008 as the 2nd best unreleased (without US theatrical release) film of the year.

When the state-owned Factory 420 becomes a luxury apartment complex known as «24 City», the stories of three generations and eight characters meld together to offer an intimate glimpse into the history of China. The line between documentary and fiction blurs as the towering factories on which socialism was built are dismantled and employees are laid off, paving the way for a free-market economy.

Located in Sichuan’s capital city of Chengdu, the 420 plant used to produce airplane engines. For more than 50 years, it was the center of life for hundreds of workers. Now, as builders prepare to transform the factory into luxury condos, interviews with real workers and ex-workers are intercut with vignettes about a lonely Shanghai woman (Joan Chen) exiled in Chengdu, a mother (Lu Liping) who lost her son on the long trip from Shenyang, and a young professional (Zhao Tao) pondering the uncertain fate faced by her elderly working-class parents. (Jason Buchanan)