Fallen City

Directed by Zhao Qi

The 2008 earthquake in China utterly destroyed not only physical structures but also human lives in mountain cities like Beichuan. Through the gracefully interwoven stories of three survivors from the town, Fallen City documents the struggle to rebuild amidst ruin.


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  • ★★★½ review by Chris Hormann on Letterboxd

    Sobering doco of life after a major earthquake hits the Chinese city of Beichuan, killing 20,000 of its residents. Especially resonant with recent events in our own country though the toll is multiplied a hundredfold there.

    Given the scope he has to deal with, director Zhao Qi sensibly focuses on three stories and how those survivors cope in the aftermath of the quake while the government moves to create a brand new city and let the destroyed city become a tourist attraction. Possibly hamstrung by stronger censorship in China (of which there are a few hints), we never really get to nitty gritty of how these people really feel about their treatment but there are also several incredibly touching scenes as you see one of the survivors cope with her near catatonic mother. However it's another scene, where a survivor tries to change the TV channels but has the same news report of the government's glorious work to help its people, that gets to the heart of the matter - it could come directly from Orwell.

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