In 1910, the Chinese were commissioned by the French to construct a rail connection between the Chinese Yunnan province and Vietnam. In very little time, this turned the sleepy village of Bise (Jade) into a lively stopover. Director Yu Jian quietly observes the daily bustle along the railroad tracks that are populated by traders, sellers of sweets, passengers and railroad employees. Initially, we only hear the surrounding sounds (dogs, birds, the radio), but gradually more and more people tell about their memories and ambitions. A land worker, for instance, recollects the era of collective farming, and how he made his toiling comrades laugh by singing a song. Another calls attention to the shifting opinion about marrying people off. We also hear how the railroad workers are edified by a memo from the authorities that praises good work ethic and once more states the security regulations. Meanwhile, the camera glides past dilapidated, weed-infested places near the tracks, while T.S. Eliot's poem "East Coker" is recited. The past always remains visible to the keen observer. Thus, Bise becomes a meeting place between modern China and the old Chinese Empire, where nothing seems to have changed.
Yu Jian for Mang Studio
Yang Kun, He Yuan, Yu Jian