Petition

    • Liang Zhao
    • China, France
    • 2009
    • 124 min
    • Best of Fests
    Petition Village is located behind Beijing's South Railway Station. The inhabitants of this shantytown have come from all over China and they all share a single objective: reparation from the Chinese state. Qi's husband, for example, died after a routine medical checkup and was immediately cremated. Qi wants to get to the bottom of the matter, but the local authorities in her village refuse to respond. And that is why she and her daughter have been camping for the last 10 years in Petition Village. From there, she makes her daily trek to the Petition Office. It is a hopeless case, as are those of many of the other complainants whom filmmaker Zhao Liang (1971) has been following -- some of them for as long as a decade. The absolute powerlessness in the face of the arbitrary indifference of the totalitarian state is shocking to behold. Zhao Liang has been chronicling the rapid transformations Beijing is undergoing for years, focusing in particular on how these changes are expressed in the relationship between individuals and the authorities. In Petition, Zhao employs a reportage style to film the complainants in their tumbledown accommodations, while standing in line, or at the Petition Office counter. Their struggle is hopeless, but still they persevere. Zhao gives the anonymous activists a voice. "Who does the People's Republic belong to anyway?" one of them wonders out loud. And another calls out, "This is a socialist country. We want human rights and justice."

    Credits

    • 124 min
    • color
    • video
    • Spoken languages: Chinese
    • Subtitles in: English
    Director
    Liang Zhao
    Production
    Sylvie Blum for Institut National de l'Audiovisuel
    Cinematography
    Liang Zhao
    Editing
    Liang Zhao
    Sound
    Laurent Thomas

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