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From The dGenerate Films Collection
Dead Souls

A film by Wang Bing

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 An Icarus Films and Grasshopper Film Release.

In Gansu Province, northwest China, lie the remains of countless prisoners abandoned in the Gobi Desert sixty years ago. Designated as “ultra-rightists” in the Communist Party’s Anti-Rightist campaign of 1957, they starved to death in the Jiabiangou and Mingshui reeducation camps. The film invites us to meet the survivors of the camps to find out firsthand who these persons were, the hardships they were forced to endure and what became their destiny.

DEAD SOULS premiered as a Special Screening at this year’s Cannes Film Festival to rapturous reviews. Variety’s Owen Gleiberman compared it to Shoah as “a powerfully sobering and clear-eyed investigation that justifies its length through the gravity and presence of its testimony.” Writing in the Hollywood Reporter, Clarence Tsui remarked that a “thoroughly focused and tightly structured” quality makes it the director’s “most explosive outing.” Sight & Sound called it “a monumental achievement.”

“Weighty and mindfully austere, Dead Souls shines a bright and steady spotlight into a dark corner of 20th century Chinese history. Film Comment

The fragments Wang has preserved shock the conscience; atomistic voices coalesce into a chorus of horrifying truths about revolutionary China.”
Education About Asia

Masterful, heart-wrenching, harrowing; this essential documentary is necessarily, unflinchingly grim; the cinematic equivalent of walking in the survivors’ shoes, and a complex, challenging but crucial viewing experience that burrows its immense sorrows deep into the audience’s bones. A Shoah of our time. Screen Daily

Explosive; Charting the origins, operations and outcomes of a far-flung Chinese labor camp in the late 1950s/early 1960s, the documentary offers affecting and harrowing accounts from those who survived the gulag. Thoroughly focused and tightly structured, it is an immensely perceptive piece about the history of China and its multitude of discontents. —The Hollywood Reporter

A powerfully sobering and clear-eyed investigation that justifies its length through the gravity and presence of its testimony. Variety

Dead Souls joins such works as Claude Lanzmann’s Shoah and Patricio Guzman’s The Battle of Chile as a vast memorial to the state of barbarity.The New York Review of Books

“Wang Bing's documentaries [form] a corpus of works addressing the contradictions imbued in China's rise as a super-power; a counter-narrative to President Xi Jinping's normative state narrative of the 'China Dream.'” —Studies in Documentary Film

“Vivid, visceral and unfiltered; the experiences narrated here cannot be summarized.”
 —Cultural Anthropology

An indispensable primary source document; essential for future generations. Critical Asian Studies

A film of resistance that, in discussing the past, also confronts the present-day activities of the Chinese government; [foretelling future memorials] for the victims of today’s camps and bearing witness to the cruel injustices of the country’s reigning overlords. The New Yorker

2018 Cannes Film Festival
2018 Toronto Internationl Film Festival

506 minutes / Color
Mandarin / English subtitles
Release: 2018
Copyright: 2018

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This DVD is sold with a license for institutional use and Public Performance rights.

Subject areas:
China, Wang Bing, Asia, Human Rights, Politics, Sociology, dGenerate Films Collection - Documentaries

Related Links:
The Films of Wang Bing

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