Tie Xi Qu: West of the Tracks - Part 1: Rust
Tie Xi Qu
For the first time, partly thanks to support from the Hubert Bals Fonds, this documentary epic can be seen in its total majestic length (more than a lengthy working day). The film is made up of three parts: 1. Rust, 2. Remnants and 3. Rails. Wang Bing made a more than exhaustive portrait of the industrial district Tie Xi in northeastern China. Once the heart of statism, with an enormous, labour?intensive heavy industry around steelworks and foundries, the district is now the scene of disconsolate decay. Many companies are already 50 years old and have never modernised, for instance a bicycle factory founded by the Japanese occupiers, which was the first of a series to go bankrupt. Economic reforms, bankruptcies, demolition and company moves have left many old factories empty and many workers unemployed. Wang Bing takes his time to allow the changes to get to him and to listen to the people talking about the situation.
Wang Bing follows the old railway line that bisects the industrial area. Along its route, he often stops for local observations and to follow a series of different protagonists. After his first acquaintance, he does not immediately travel on. He follows a community rebelling against the degeneration of their neighbourhood through the seasons until deep in the icy winter.