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Jia Zhangke, widely acknowledged as one of the world’s leading filmmakers, follows up his previous STILL LIFE with this seamless mixture of fiction and documentary.
Shot in Chengdu before the earthquake, 24 CITY chronicles the dramatic fall of a State-owned munitions factory and its conversion into a luxury high-rise apartment complex. In a film both artfully composed and rich in offbeat details, Jia weaves together the stories of three generations of factory workers into a fascinating oral history of China over the last 50 years, and a meditation on the great physical and psychological changes transforming the country. The history of one factory and its workers becomes a microcosm for the entire history of China over the same period from the huge sacrifices and personal upheavals of the early post-revolutionary years to the alienation of today’s comparitive prosperity.
The line between documentary and fiction blurs as interviews with real workers and ex-workers are intercut with acted stories and actual vignettes of people affected by the closure of the factory and the construction of the apartment block 24 CITY.