Jiabiangou | by WANG BING | Feature film | 2010 | Hong Kong-France-Belgium | 112 min | color
At the end of the 1950s, the Chinese government sends thousands of men, considered right-wing in view of their past or their criticism with regard to the Communist party, to forced labor camps. Deported to be re-educated in the northwest part of the country, in the middle of the Gobi Desert and thousands of miles from their families, they are confronted by utter destitution. Faced with the physical labor, lack of food and harsh climate, a great many of them die. The Ditch tells of their fate - the extreme of the human condition.
Director/Screenplay: Wang Bing
Based on the book Goodbye, Jiabiangou, by Yang Xianhui
Cinematographer: Lu Sheng
Production Designer: Benjamin Padero, Carlo Tabije
Sound recordists: Pierre Gamet, Hélène Le Morvan, Emmanuel Croset
Editor: Marie-Hélène Dozo
Sound editors: Gilles Laurent, Valérie Ledocte, Fu Kang
Production Designer: Zhang Fuli
Costume designer: Wang Fuzheng
Sound Mixer: Michel Schillings
Cast: LU Ye, LIAN Renjun, XU Cenzi, YANG Haoyu, CHENG Zhengwu, JING Niansong, with the special contribution of LI Xiangnian.
Producers: Wang, K Lihong, Hui Mao, Philippe Avril, Francisco Villa-Lobos, Sébastien Delloye, Diana Elbaum
Co-Executive Production companies:
Les Films de l’Étranger (France), WIL Productions (Hong Kong)
Co-Production: Entre Chien et Loup (Belgium).
With the participation of Arte France and in association with Wild Bunch.
Development supports: Cinefondation, Cannes IFFF (Residency, Atelier), CineMart / ARTE France Cinema Award, Groupama Gan Foundation for Cinema, Hubert Bals Fund, PPP (Pusan International Film Festival).
Production supports: South Fund CInema (CNC, Ministry for European and Foreign Affairs), Alsace Region, Audiovisual and Cinema Centre, French Belgian Community and wallonian teledistributors, Strasbourg urban Community.
Venice Film Festival 2010 - Competition
Toronto International Film Festival 2010 - Visions Program
Abu Dhabi Film Festival 2010
Busan International Film Festival 2010
Montréal Festival du Nouveau Cinéma 2010
Sao Paulo Mostra Internacional de Cinema 2010
Stockholm Film Festival 2010
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria International Film Festival 2011: Audience Award, SIGNIS Award, Special Jury Award
Kinema Junpo Awards 2012: Best Foreign Film Language Director
World sales : Wild Bunch
ABOUT THE MOVIE
"The Ditch makes only glancing reference to the political events that precipitated the anti-rightist movement, and the film's minimal context and thinly sketched characters could be read as a broad condemnation of atrocities and abuses perpetrated in any country, even if Wang's grueling depiction of this sun-bleached no-man's land could hardly be more specific or exacting in its re-creation of physical details.
(…) Drawn from a novel by Yang Xianhui
and interviews Wang conducted
with survivors, the film has an
overpowering feel of unfiltered reality
that persists even as tightly framed
dramatic moments begin to emerge.
Admirers of Wang's documentaries
know his ability to capture real moments
of extraordinary intimacy, and the sense
of verisimilitude here is so strong
that those walking in unawares may
at first think they're watching another
piece of highly observant reportage -
never mind that no filmmaker would
ever have been granted access, just as no humane documentarian could have kept the camera rolling without offering his subjects a scrap of food at the very least.
Dramatically, The Ditch is as arid and unrelenting as the setting it depicts, and its commingling of anguish and anger is far from subtle. But this may be the only way to properly dramatize and empathize with these men's experience; if barely two hours seem unendurable, three months defeat the imagination."
(Justin Chang, Variety)