Cai you ri ji
The most important reason not to screen this film by the master documentary maker Wang Bing in a cinema is its length. As an installation, the film now lasts two exhibition days, two times seven hours, and offers an opportunity for the viewer to walk away and come back again. Originally the film was planned to last even longer: a whole exhibition week. That material was also shot, but in the end the maker preferred an edited version.
The film was shot at a high altitude in the Gobi Desert in northwestern China. It shows the heavy industry of crude oil being extracted and the work of hundreds of labourers who do tiring and dirty work and make long days. Wang Bing follows the workers in their canteens and dormitories, while they play cards and he also listens to them talking about women.
The pressure to extract oil and on the workers is great. The climate of the high, rocky desert is harsh, but it has to be done, because the present Chinese economy has an almost insatiable need for oil.
The presentation of this great film is relatively simple and on a single screen. It's possible to follow a day of work extracting oil from the morning to the evening. The cinematographic time runs parallel to real-time, so that the installation makes it possible to restore the language of film, which usually compresses time, to the time of one's own observation. (GjZ)