Asian Cinema Fund 2018

2014 Asian Network of Documentary (AND) Fund

Project Dust
Category BIFF Mecenat Fund
Project Dust
Director ZHAO Liang
Country China
Director's Profile Zhao Liang was born in 1971 and graduated from Luxun Academy of Fine Arts in 1992. He has been based in Beijing since 1993, working as a documentary filmmaker and a photographic and video artist. His representative film works include Together (2010), Petition (2009), and Crime and Punishment (2007).
 
Synopsis
On the steppes of Batar, a young Mongolian girl carries a bedroll on her back as heavy mining equipment rumbles along not far away, kicking up plumes of dust. Lately, the mines have come too close to their yurt and the dust blows too easily. Shang Dengxiang has worked at the mines for four years. Refusing to wear a mask while working with his wife gathering coal, his face blackens day after day. Despite the harsh living conditions, it is still better than the gamble of farming the weak soil back home in order to feed themselves. Mr. Ding, the smartly dressed boss, swings a golf club beside the pit. He has been running this site for decades, but lately workers have been falling ill. The Department of Safety pays him a visit, which means either shutting down production or bribing the inspector. Zhang Xianquan, a former migrant worker of a dozen-odd years, stands panting at the top of a hill, holding a black-framed mirror. Two years ago, he was diagnosed with third degree black lung. “I spent so many years in your mines. You can’t just throw me out like a pair of old shoes.” And so he organizes the other workers from his village to sue for compensation.
Director's Note
The word “dust” carries with it a sense of infinitesimal insignificance. The tiny nothingness that is dust speaks to the essence of life, as is stated profoundly in funeral rites from the Book of Common Prayer, “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust,” which epitomizes the religious belief that one’s life is born of and becomes as nothing. This film follows my travels in Inner Mongolia along the energy supply chain, focusing on the many laborers toiling in their prime, journeying all the way up to the “ghost city” of Ordos (鄂尔多斯), a miniature economic bubble that exemplifies the contradictions and troubles of China’s rapid economic development, and reveals the unimaginable things that men are prepared to do.
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