Ever since his overwhelming, nine-hour Tie Xi Qu: West of the Tracks, Wang Bing has been regarded as one of today’s greatest documentary filmmakers, one who demands patience from his viewers but rewards it amply. For his latest film, he stayed for months in a half-open psychiatric institution in a provincial town in South China and edited about 280 hours of film into this four-hour documentary. In the (doubtless) stinking, badly (not) maintained spaces where the men stand, sleep, talk, quarrel, wash or urinate close together, Wang’s camera observes them with absolute respect and endless sympathy.
Wang: 'This film approaches them at a time when they are abandoned by their families and society. There is no freedom in this hospital. But when men are locked behind bars, they are capable of creating a new world, without restrictions of morality or behaviour. Under the night light, their bodies are like ghosts, craving love, physical or sentimental.’