Wang Libo’s film Buried was one of the prizewinners of the 2009 Beijing Documentary Film Festival. This probing documentary was made in the aftermath of the 2008 earthquake that shook Sichuan province (an event covered in detail by Du Haibin’s 1428, playing next month at the Los Angeles Film Festival). The film is now available in its entirety on YouTube; it’s embedded in its entirety on our site, following the break.
Instead of focusing directly at the Sichuan earthquake, Wang’s film looks back at controversies surrounding the 1976 Tangshan Earthquake that killed over 200,000 people. Using a range of expert testimonies, Wang builds a provocative argument that Chinese officials had significant information forewarning of an imminent earthquake, but did not take sufficient action to help prevent the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives. The implications of the film’s conclusions bear heavily on the Chinese government’s handling of both the Tangshan and the Sichuan earthquake. Buried leaves disturbing questions about the power and responsibility of government in disaster management.
The 1976 Tangshan Earthquake left a lot of open questions. Before the earthquake, seismological personnel in Tangshan and quake experts in Beijing had already warned of an imminent quake. But in the end, more than 240,000 people had to pay with their lives, causing a shocking tragedy of massive proportions. Why did this happen? In the 2008 Wenchuan Earthquake about 100,000 people were killed. Faced with terrible quakes, the human race repeats tragedy time and time again. It is terrible that people can only offer money and bland tears after the disaster – when better preparation could have saved lives. A nation has to courageously face its own weakness to remain hopeful.
- Wang Libo
Click through to watch the entire film, embedded on YouTube: