Film: “Dead Souls,” part 2

Saturday, March 9, 2019, 4 PM

In person: Wang Bing, director, in conversation with Carma Hinton, documentary filmmaker and Clarence J. Robinson Professor of Visual Culture and Chinese Studies at George Mason University

Watch the trailer.

Over ten years in the making, Wang Bing’s latest project records testimony from survivors of a hard-labor camp in the Gobi Desert. The 495-minute documentary also surveys the harsh landscape, where the bones of those who didn’t survive remain. It will be shown in three parts, each followed by a Q&A with the filmmaker.

In Gansu Province, northwest China, lie the remains of countless prisoners abandoned in the Gobi Desert decades 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 survivors of the camps to find out firsthand who they were, the hardships they were forced to endure, and what became their destiny.

Dead Souls premiered as a special screening at last 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.” In the Hollywood Reporter, Clarence Tsui remarked that a “thoroughly focused and tightly structured” quality makes Dead Souls the director’s “most explosive outing.” Sight & Sound called it “a monumental achievement.” Description courtesy of Icarus Films. (Dir.: Wang Bing, France/Switzerland, 2018, 165 min., DCP, Mandarin with English subtitles)

Image courtesy of Icarus Films and Grasshopper Film

  • Venue: Freer Gallery of Art
  • Event Location: Freer, Meyer Auditorium
  • Cost: Free