Archive of films Still Life / Sanxia haoren

2006, 108 min

Section: Horizons
Year: 2007

Miner Han Sanming arrives in the city of Fengjie to look for his wife and daughter whom he hasn’t seen for sixteen years. There he finds a young woman, Shen Hong, whose husband left her two years previously and now works as an official overseeing the construction of the Three Gorges Dam which will soon flood the city. This documentary-style film, awarded the Golden Lion in Venice 2006, offers a fascinating image of a place entirely taken over by a gigantic construction project.


The Three Gorges Dam on the Yellow River is one of the largest construction projects in human history. For many years, its existence has affected the lives of thousands of people. One of them is the miner Han Sanming, who arrives in the city of Fengjie to look for his wife who left him sixteen years before, taking their little daughter with her. The 2,000-year-old city is to be flooded and the man finds work demolishing houses in preparation for the dam. His story also contains an episode during which he meets the good-natured Shen Hong, who was abandoned by her husband two years earlier. The latter is now working as an official overseeing the construction of the dam. Awarded a Golden Lion in Venice in 2006 and flowing as slowly as the great Chinese river itself, the film is divided into several chapters, presenting a para-documentary view of various aspects of life in a region which is soon to be submerged. The director sets off his realistic depiction with unexpected, stylised images (for example, a giant tower structure suddenly lifting off like a rocket etc.).

About the director

Jia Zhang-ke (b. 1970, Fenyang, Shan-xi province) grew up with his re-settled family in a small town, an hour’s drive from the Yellow River. At 18 he began studying art, but he was also interested in literature and in 1991 wrote his first novel. He studied at the Film Academy in Beijing and, in 1995, established the first independent Chinese company Youth Experimental Film Group. As an independent filmmaker, he is a leading member of the so-called Sixth Generation. His films have been shown at a number of festivals. He debuted with Pickpocket (Xiao wu, 1998), which was followed by the titles Platform (Zhantai, 2000), Unknown Pleasures (Ren xiao yao, 2002), The World (Shijie, 2004), screened at the Karlovy Vary IFF in 2005, and Still Life (Sanxia haoren, 2006), following on from his documentary East (Dong, 2006) and awarded a Golden Lion at the Venice IFF 2006.


Memento Films International
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Tel: +33 153 349 020
Fax: +33 142 471 124

About the film

Color, 35 mm

Section: Horizons
Director: Jia Zhangke
Screenplay: Jia Zhang-ke
Dir. of Photography: Yu Likwai
Music: Lim Giong
Editor: Khung Jinlei
Producer: Xu Pengle, Wang Tianyun, Zhu Jiong
Production: Xstream Pictures
Cast: Zhao Tao, Han Sanming
Contact: Memento Films International

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