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From The dGenerate Films Collection
Lost Course
Directed by Jill Li
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Embedding herself in the village of Wukan, southern China for several years starting in 2011, first time documentarian Jill Li witnessed an unprecedented experiment in local democracy. Corrupt officials had illegally sold villagers' land, but the villagers decided to fight back.

The documentary is divided into two halves: the first, "Protests", depicts the grassroots activities of Wukan residents as they work to reverse the land sales and gain a substantial measure of control over their local territory. We see how the villagers themselves learn to organize elections, form alliances, and win support. Part two, "After Protests", confronts the collapse of idealism as the newly elected village government finds itself mired in the same kind of corrupt dealings they had originally condemned.

Li reveals the complexities of their triumphs and setbacks from the inside. Her astonishingly intimate, sympathetic and fair-minded access to the events' major players reveals Chinese local politics with three-dimensional passion and energy.

“Critic's Pick! Li builds a case that active civic engagement in China inevitably leads to trouble — or else further corruption.” —Ben Kenigsberg, The New York Times

"Urgent and energetic. Nothing about this complex documentary veers in the wrong direction." —Sarah Ward, Screen Daily

"Engrossing, revealing and bittersweet; sweeps the viewer into the center of a bold, fledgling grassroots democratic movement in the surprising setting of rural China. Hats off [for] an engrossing piece of solid, uncensored journalism." —Deborah Young, The Hollywood Reporter

“Jill Li’s epic political documentary ‘Lost Course,’ a remarkable feat of embedded journalism for a first-time feature filmmaker. Marked by immediacy and breadth, as if an on-the-fly news bulletin had naturally morphed into the richest of character-driven sagas. The most rewarding of personal, verité-driven lenses.” —Robert Abele, Los Angeles Times

“A rare vision emerges amid the tumult: a rural Chinese community in its multifaceted fullness, steadfastly setting the terms of its own representation… Uses cinema to illuminate the fruits [of] struggle.” —Xueli Wang, Los Angeles Review of Books

Best Documentary, Golden Horse Awards 2020
International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam IDFA 2020
Hong Kong Asian Film Festival HKAFF 2019
Vancouver International Film Festival 2019

180 minutes / Color
Mandarin / English subtitles
Release: 2020
Copyright: 2019

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Subject areas:
Anthropology, Asia, Asian Studies, China, Economic Sociology, Economics, Politics, dGenerate Films Collection - Documentaries

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