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A Theater Near You

Friday, October 23, 2009
6:30 p.m. 24 City
Jia Zhangke (China, 2008)

(Er shi si cheng ji). From China’s eminent filmmaker Jia Zhangke, an exquisite documentary/fiction hybrid examining 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.

24 City is repeated on Thursday, October 29.

—Chi-hui Yang, S.F. International Asian American Film Festival

• Written by Jia, Zhai Yongming. Photographed by Yu Lik Wai, Wang Yu. With Joan Chen, Lu Liping, Zhao Tao, Chen Jianbin. (107 mins, In Mandarin with English subtitles, Color, 35mm, From Cinema Guild)