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Exploring Loneliness

Exploring Loneliness

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The coastal city of Zhenhai, once a small fishing village 1500 kilometers away from the capital of Beijing, began its process of industrialization in the 1980s, and now exists as a special economic area in a now-burgeoning Chinese economy.

Zhengfan Yang’s debut feature is set in Zhenhai, his hometown, whose process of historical change the director has elected to depict by way of 13 long, “distant” takes, the camera situated far away from his “characters,” with little discernible connections between each scene: Yang focuses on subtle moments wherein the city’s residents suddenly are forced to confront modernity, finding themselves lost in transition. Yang’s highly esoteric and beautifully photographed work evokes both Chinese landscape painting, as well as filmmakers as diverse as James Benning and Roy Andersson – each long take – a building block, if you will – contains confidently choreographed action, in turns tragic and farcial, all in the name of exploring the psychological and political distance felt by its alienated characters, who persist with their lonely lives in a rapidly industrializing geography, with no control over their destinies or their culture.

Mark Peranson

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