RIDM 2018 Preview: Dead Souls by Wang Bing

Wang Bing’s documentary Dead Souls tells the story of China’s deadly re-education camps.

UPDATE: After watching the first half of this documentary I can say that it did not seem long at all, and it certainly was not boring. 

Dead Souls (Ames Mortes for the version with French subtitles) is a documentary by acclaimed Chinese cineaste Wang Bing. Here’s an extract from the synopsis on the RIDM web site: “Wang Bing’s latest work is more than just a film. A painstaking compilation of testimonials, as precise as they are devastating, Dead Souls is a crucially important historical document. . .Wang Bing looks back at China’s post-war reeducation camps. Through survivors’ chilling stories, Wang exposes the cruelty inmates experienced and, especially, the workings of the implacable and terrifying political machine that set out, in the mid-1950s, to crush all opposition both real and imagined. The remains abandoned in the Gobi Desert remind us of the staggering death toll. . .”

A long story, with many victims, takes a long time to tell. RIDM is presenting Dead Souls in two parts, over two days, Saturday Nov. 17 and Sunday Nov. 18, 2018. Each part is 250 minutes long. A ticket for Saturday’s screening is good for Sunday’s as well.

Dead Souls has a 100% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. You can read 13 favourable reviews there.

Here is a quote from Variety: “Wang Bing’s ‘Dead Souls’ is a powerfully sobering and clear-eyed investigation that justifies its length through the gravity and presence of its testimony. Wang. . . isn’t just making a historical documentary; he’s using oral memoir to forge an artifact of history. . . it does just what a movie that’s this long should: It uses its intimate sprawl to catalyze your view of something — in this case, how the totalitarianism of the 20th century actually worked. (One is tempted to say: quite well.)

And one from Toronto’s NOW: “it’s an overwhelming and damning portrait, but the film’s power lies in heartbreaking, idiosyncratic and overlapping details.”

I will watch this on Saturday and report back. I imagine that one COULD watch Part 2 without seeing Part 1.

Dead Souls

Nov. 17, 2018 6:30 p.m.
Cinémathèque Québécoise – Salle Fernand-Seguin
Screening presented with English Subtitles
Seance 152B

 

Dead Souls

Nov. 18, 2018 6:00 p.m.
Cinémathèque Québécoise – Salle Fernand-Seguin
Screening presented with English Subtitles

 

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