A Yangtze Landscape
Impact | VIFF Impact
From the lights of Shanghai’s Bund to its source on the Tibetan plateau, Xu Xin’s documentary, shot in starkly beautiful black and white, follows the entire length of the Yangtze River, providing a simultaneously gorgeous and disturbing panorama of China’s land and people. At each station along the river, Xu’s camera finds the marginal and the displaced or those merely left behind by China’s visibly booming 21st-century surge. Originally conceived as a "making of" documentary accompanying Yang Chao’s 2016 fiction feature Crosscurrent, Xu’s work took on a life of its own, as his deeply probing, incisive camera caught its own stories along the route of Yang’s poetic feature.
Xu Xin is one of China’s preeminent independent filmmakers, whose fearless and rigorously constructed moral and aesthetic vision has caught the attention of both official China and cineastes around the world. Here he has crafted a grandly scaled, moving, provocative portrait of China today. Visions of the Three Gorges Dam, and Chongqing’s futuristic skyline alternate with hushed temples and desolate wastelands. This Yangtze landscape is both epic and intimate: it’s an ode to the great river and a lament for its inhabitants.
— Shelly Kraicer