“Without question the greatest work to have come out of the Chinese documentary movement, and must be ranked among the most extraordinary achievements of world cinema in the new century.”
Lu Xinyu, New Left Review
“Capturing moments both large and small...this profoundly empathetic and humanist work bears witness to a vanished way of life and the real cost of progress.”
Jeanette Catsoulis, The New York Times
Wang Bing’s tripartite nine-hour documentary portrait of Tie Xi, the industrial district in northeastern China. Once the heart of state-run heavy industry, Tie Xi is now a scene of decay, as economic reforms, bankruptcies, relocation, and demolition have left many factories empty and entire communities jobless.
Wang follows the old railway line that bisects the industrial area to interview locals about their precarious situation. In Rust, he spends an entire year with one community as it copes with the disintegration of its village. In Remnants, he portrays children who, with no prospects for the future, still manage to find small pleasures in everyday life. And in Rails, he follows the old railway track past dying factories, visiting the people who have stayed behind. (MoMA)
In West of the Tracks, filmmaker Wang Bing documents the slow, inevitable death of an obsolete manufacturing system. Between 1999 and 2001 he meticulously filmed the lives of the last factory workers, a class of people once promised glory during the Chinese revolution. Now trapped by economic change, the workers become deeply moving film heroes in this modern epic. The film is an engrossing portrait of Chinese society in transition. Cahiers du Cinema compares Wang Bing to the great Russian writers and calls his film “a masterful production, an open file on realism.” West of the Tracks “opens up a new and radical era in cinematography.” (DER Documentary)