Street Life (Nanjing Lu)

ZHAO Dayong. China, 2006. Documentary, 98 min.
Mandarin w/ English subtitles.

STREET LIFE explores the hidden lives of homeless migrants who survive in the shadows of one of Shanghai’s most historic and affluent streets.

Every year, hundreds of thousands of Chinese migrants are drawn to the allure of Shanghai, one of the world’s most vibrant cities, with hopes of earning a decent living. Some end up in the dark alleys of Nanjing Road, Shanghai’s largest shopping street, where they learn to hustle and scrape together any kind of living they can. One migrant, known as Black Skin, faces numerous pressures in his daily existence, including police violence. Black Skin’s story intersects with those of fellow bottle collectors, enterprising thieves and even a young boy who was abandoned. Eventually Black Skin goes mad, dancing wildly through the crowds of Nanjing Road and in the doorways of luxury shops.

Director Zhao Dayong (GHOST TOWN, 2009 New York Film Festival) arrived in Shanghai in 2004 and began documenting the lives of itinerant Chinese using digital video. He saw their stories as overlooked portraits of the deep social impact caused by China’s rapid economic growth. Zhao uses bold, exaggerated compositions in order to emphasize the relationship between his vagrant subjects and the city streets they inhabit. The result is a raw, vivid portrait of physical and psychological rootlessness. STREET LIFE reflects the way of life for thousands of forgotten people in one of the world’s largest cities.

Director’s Bio:
Zhao Dayong

Reviews:

Select Film Festivals:

Jury Prize, Beijing Documentary Film Festival
City of Rome Prize, Rome Asiatica Film Mediale
Vienna Film Festival
Berlin Blobale Film Festival
Yunnan Multi Culture Visual Festival, China
Filming East Festival, UK

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