Du zi cun zai
2017 / China / 77 min
An old man draws water and laboriously carries his buckets up a steep road, two young girls pass by; an old woman cautiously descends the slope now covered in snow. Soon, these sketches give way to others, filmed at closer range, down below. These outdoor comings and goings are now tinged with the inquiring intimacy of the filmmaker, whose first-person intertitles distil his doubts. The strange serenity emanating from the windows where his neighbours go about their daily lives narrows the viewpoint even further, as the filmer’s doubts overwhelm him: “I repeat the same old movements. All I want is not to feel anything anymore.” An existential vacuum and creative barrenness transform the filmmaker into a recumbent figure, paralysed in his home by his own solipsism. He will have to find a way of filming “the others”, but without hiding behind them. How can he represent the inhabitants’ daily movements, life outside or time passing through the landscape, with a gaze that is for once involved? The documentary ultimately draws strength from this metaphysical meditation. It challenges the ambition of the cinema of reality to re-create life, when in fact only too often it carves it as a dead letter. (Charlotte Garson)
Production: Fa Rong, Ji Dan, Ibidem Films
Print source: Sha Qing
SHA Qing was born in Beijing. He started in cinema as a film editor and sound engineer. Wellspring, his first film, was released in 2002. Lone Existence is the last version of the project Fading Reflections, which begun in 2010.