Cinéma du Réel - International documentary film festival
Xiongnian zhipan
DR

Xiongnian zhipan

We the Workers

HUANG Wenhai

2017 / China, Hong Kong / 174 min

i Saturday 25 March 12H00 Cinéma 2
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Original Version Subtitled in French and English

i Wednesday 29 March 20H20 Cinéma 1
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Original Version Subtitled in French and English + DEBATE

i Thursday 30 March 13H00 Luminor
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Original Version Subtitled in French and English + DEBATE

From 2009 to 2015, Huang Wenhai follows the efforts of labour activists and lawyers who are defending workers’ rights, not without some risk to themselves, in several regions in China. Showing the same perseverance as them, he alternates public moments and private scenes in the flats of those workers who are now sacrificing their family life. Initially focused on the daily routine of Peng Jiayong leaving his Guangzhou apartment for the Haige Labour Centre, the portrait opens out into a broader, more frantic story as the pressures, arrests and violence impede his actions. The temptation of heroism – as dangerous as the allure of despair – comes at a high price: “You think yourself a hero, but you’re too impulsive!” comments Jiayong’s director. The drive to educate does not always bear fruit: “The workers give up, they let themselves be trampled on, and that’s their fault!” Class consciousness seems dulled in the workers of the “world’s factory”, where we catch a passing glimpse of their working conditions (striking shots inside a workshop manufacturing golf clubs, and of a quashed uprising at a bag factory). Just as Wang Bing portrays, with each new film, the budding concept of the individual in modern-day China, Huang Wenhai (his cameraman on Three Sisters) reveals and supports the birth of collective action stripped of an ideology that long stifled it. (Charlotte Garson)

Production: Zeng Jinyan & Wen Hai Production

Print source: Zeng Jinyan

HUANG Wenhai studied at the Beijing Film Academy and has been active as an independent film director since 2001. He has made Floating Dust (2003), Prix Georges Beauregard at FIDMarseille in 2005, and We (Wo men), awarded at the 2008 Venice International Film Festival. His film Meng You (Dream Walking) won the Grand Prix at Cinéma du réel in 2006. He has also worked as a cameraman on WANG Bing’s film Three Sisters (2012).