A River Runs, Turns, Erases, Replaces

  • Shengze Zhu
  • United States
  • 2021
  • 87 min
  • Dutch Premiere
  • Paradocs

A surveillance camera watches over ordinary streets in an ordinary city—except there’s barely anyone to be seen. It’s March 2020, and this is Wuhan, the city that will forever be associated with the virus that put the world on pause.

The opening scenes echo through the remainder of the documentary, which presents the city as a place in constant motion. Within the frames of extended static shots, life unfolds at a pleasingly calm pace. There are swimmers in the water and people waltzing on the waterfront of the Yangtze River, the artery winding through the city. Somewhere on the horizon there is always some building under construction.

Every so often though, the reassuring chatter and the thumping of building work fall still, and words appear on the screen—words from letters to a spouse or a grandparent who is gone. The lives that have come to a halt are like the stones that deflect the river just a little, but never interrupt the flow.


  • 87 min
  • color
  • DCP
  • Spoken languages: No dialogue
  • Subtitles in: English
Shengze Zhu
Zhengfan Yang for Burn The Film
Shengze Zhu, Zhengfan Yang
Shengze Zhu
Sound Design
Aymeric Dupas

IDFA history

Dutch Premiere

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