Part objective documentary, part personal essay, on the surface this film charts the transformation of Beijing as it prepares for the 2008 Olympic Games. In order to present a modern glossy face to the world, one where shiny new buildings and icons of western consumerism are rapidly built and pushed to the foreground, the Chinese government prefers to hide the hardship of the people constructing the new image, and that of the disappearing world of its culture-carrying elders.
Electing to focus beneath the facade, this intelligent and important work bravely exposes the unseen changes in values and the social costs being paid, especially those of the peasant construction workers of the new China. Told through the contrast of individual's stories with elements of retrospective context, the film functions as a feminine poem on a macho subject using a clever mix of colour and black & white film, stills, snippets of media newsflash and even quotes and songs from Maoist China.
Xiaolu Guo, writer and director in conversation with architectural historian María González Pendás (SOF/Heyman, Columbia University) and SOF Fellow JM Chris Chang (SOF/Heyman, Columbia University).