XU Xin. China, 2005. Documentary, 80 minutes. Mandarin and Jiangsu dialect w/ English subtitles.
A fascinating look into the inner workings of a Christian community in rural China, whose ways of life and worship are threatened by the world around them.A lively community of Christians inhabit Fangshan, a remote rural town in Jiangsu Province. At the start of the millennium, a church was built there with support of local inhabitants’ relatives from Taiwan. On Sundays, up to 900 people gather to worship, while spending most of their days maintaining a modest living as farmers. Their faith governs how they handle family conflicts, illnesses and other difficulties. Still, they must contend with constraining forces in their community, from ancient folk religious practices to laws forbidding evangelism.
With Fangshan Church, filmmaker Xu Xin (Karamay, Jury Prize, Locarno Film Festival) offers one of the most vivid portraits of Christian life in China to date. Filming over two years, Xu presents a richly detailed chronicle of religious practices, from weekly worship services to home prayer visits, as well as intimate interviews with individuals, filmed with a painterly eye. The result is a keenly observed reflection on the different forces – social, cultural and personal – that shape a religious community.
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