The Road

  • Zanbo Zhang
  • China, Denmark
  • 2015
  • 95 min
  • World Premiere
  • IDFA Competition for Feature-Length Documentary
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In four chapters, director Zanbo Zhang documents the abuses surrounding the construction of a giant highway through Hunan province from the perspective of the local population, the construction company and the laborers. In 2008, the Chinese government decided to invest $586 billion on infrastructure in an effort to stimulate the economy. The new highway is part of President Hu’s three-stage strategy, a process of modernization that has been underway for some 30 years now. In reality, the project is being run by corrupt Party members, bad employers and local gangsters. Many homes belonging to local people have been damaged by explosives, and the private construction company is endlessly dragging its feet when it comes to paying its employees. Behind the scenes at the construction company, we hear their plans to deal with dissent: “If people obstruct the construction with no reason, we must strike back without mercy and arrest them if needed.” Meanwhile, a building inspector has discovered that the construction of the highway is both unsound and completely illegal. It also turns out that many of the laborers haven’t been paid, and on a neighboring highway construction site 19 get killed in an explosion in a tunnel. Everyone is at odds – it would seem that building a highway is a little like fighting a war. Nevertheless, the Xu-Huai Highway was opened with great fanfare in 2013.


  • 95 min
  • color
  • DCP
  • Spoken languages: Chinese
  • Subtitles in: English
Zanbo Zhang
Richard Liang for Galaxion Films
Plus Pictures, CNEX, Let the Chairman Go First, Blackfin Productions
Zanbo Zhang
Zanbo Zhang, Steen Johannessen, Jean Tsien
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IDFA history

World Premiere
IDFA Competition for Feature-Length Documentary

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IDFA history