Still Life (2008)

Genre:  Documentary, Drama
Running Time:  108 min.
Release Date: January 25, 2008 (limited)
DVD: May 20, 2008

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Cast: Zhao Tao, Han Sanming


Jia Zhang-Ke's Still Life (Sanxia haoren) -- which won the Golden Lion at the 2006 Venice Film Festival -- is set against China's Three Gorges Dam, whose construction displaced an estimated 1 million people and submerged towns like historic Fengjie under water. It tells the story of two people who are searching for their spouses. It also records what old Fengjie looked like, before it totally disappeared in the dam's last flooding on May 1, 2006.

The story begins in the months before the final flooding. Part of Fengjie -- a town with 2,000 years of history -- has already been submerged. And the rest of it soon will be. The place is jammed with entrepreneurs, scammers, workers, evacuees, and people like Han (Han Sanming) and Shen (Zhao Tao).

Although Han and Shen don't know each other, they have both arrived from Shanxi province. Han is looking for his wife and daughter he hasn't seen for 16 years, only to find their house under water. With the town records in chaos, he has to track down his family himself. Shen is searching for her husband who hasn't been home in two years. A mutual acquaintance tries to help, but he's reluctant to say whether Shen's husband now has a girlfriend.

Director: Jia Zhang-Ke
Studio: Mongrel Media
Producer(s): Xu Pengle, Wang Tianyun, Zhu Jiong
Screenplay: Jia Zhang-Ke

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