Still Life

  • 108'
  • Hong Kong
  • 2006
Jia Zhang-ke, the young chronicler of a changing China, has so far shot his films in Beijing and the province of Shanxi. For Still Life, one of the masterpieces of this last year, he went to Sichuan, where the gigantic Three Gorges Dam in the Yangtze River is approaching completion. He came back with two films: Dong (see alongside), regarded as a documentary, and the complex, metaphorical and formally challenging Still Life.
The backdrop is the city of Fengjie, large areas of which have already been demolished. Soon, rising water will swallow up everything. The destruction is shown in occasionally overwhelming realistic images (this is a film that uses HD as the Way and the Truth and not as a cheap replacement for celluloid). In this hell made by human hands, the symbol of a society that cannot wait to exchange the last remnants of history for ‘progress’, we follow two narrative lines. A miner from the North (Han San-ming) is looking for his wife (and daughter), whom he hasn't seen for 16 years. And a woman from Shanghai is looking for her husband so she can ask him for a divorce.
Much more than the fragmented developments as they reached the viewer - almost optimistic in their results - it is the landscape and the (workers’) bodies that are the real subject of the ‘feature’ of which the Chinese title means ‘The Good People of the Three Gorges’. (GT)

Jia Zhangke
Countries of production
Hong Kong, China
Production Year
Festival Edition
IFFR 2007
Original title
Sanxia haoren
Xu Pengle, Wang Tianyun, Zhu Jiong
Production Companies
Xstream Pictures Limited, Shanghai Film Group Corporation
Memento Films International
Jia Zhangke
Yu Lik-wai
Kong Jin-lei
Lim Giong
Zhao Tao, Han San-ming
Local Distributor
A-Film Distribution