Trapped in the City of a Thousand Mountains


  • David Verbeek
  • Netherlands, China
  • 2018
  • 23 min
  • World Premiere
  • IDFA Competition for Short Documentary

A new phenomenon of authentic Chinese rap has taken the internet by storm. But behind the unprecedented gains in popularity, there is a struggle for freedom of speech. Rappers are trying to figure out what they still can and cannot do after new censorship is announced.

In Chongqing, one of China’s biggest cities, surveillance is unavoidable—there are CCTV cameras everywhere. And announcements echo across the vast squares warning that “morally suspect individuals” are banned from speaking in public. It’s not exactly the most stimulating environment for young people looking for something more than just collectivist slogans. They express their artistic resistance against the lack of freedom in their tattoos and underground hip hop. The rappers feel trapped in the immense city.

In 20 minutes, David Verbeek guides the viewer through the Chongqing night, offering an atmospheric and rhythmic inside view of a lively subculture. “I just want to write about my own feelings,” says one of our rapper protagonists. “That's all that matters to me.”


  • 23 min
  • color
  • DCP
  • Spoken languages: Chinese
  • Subtitles in: English
David Verbeek
Jos de Putter for DeepFocus Web Docs
Executive producer
Prisca van der Mullen
David Verbeek
David Verbeek

IDFA history

World Premiere
IDFA Competition for Short Documentary

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IDFA history

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