In this epic documentary, Wang Bing tells the story of a little-known chapter of Chinese history: the reeducation camps in the Gobi Desert, in which many Chinese men lost their lives in the late 1950s under the Communist Party’s Anti-Rightist Campaign. Starvation, solitary confinement, torture—the survivors tell their stories for the first time with astonishing composure, seated in their simple living rooms. “They no longer resembled a human,” one of the men says of his starving fellow prisoners, who wandered like zombies, searching for food. Sometimes their cries for help would reach their families, but usually no one was aware of their suffering.
Wang Bing, an archaeologist of hidden Chinese history, worked for 12 years on this impressive film and interviewed 120 people. He also took his camera to search for evidence in the desert, where once thousands of people were forced into silence. In his thanks to the people he interviewed, the filmmaker says, “Your pain has woken the sleeping souls of the deceased so that all the hardships endured be known to as many people as possible.”