WE THE WORKERS (凶年之畔)
Directed by Wen Hai (aka Huang Wenhai)
Produced by Zeng Jinyan
2017, 173 minutes, Mandarin with English Subtitles
Filmmaker Wen Hai will attend in person for Q&A!
Co-presented by Crows & Sparrows and the Emergent Visions Film Series of the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, Harvard University
About the Film:
“Shot over a six-year period (2009-15) mainly in the industrial heartland of south China, this film primarily follows labor activists Peng Jiayong and Deng Xiaoming as they find common ground with workers, helping them to negotiate with local officials and factory owners over wages and working conditions.
Threats, attacks, detention and boredom become part of their daily lives as they struggle to strengthen worker solidarity in the face of pressure from police and their employers. In the process, we see in their words and actions the emergence of a nascent working class consciousness and labor movement in China.”
World Premiere at the 2017 International Film Festival Rotterdam. Official Selection of Cinéma du Réel, San Diego Asian Film Festival, Chinese Visual Festival UK, Buenos Aires International Film Festival (BAFICI), Montreal International Documentary Film Festival (RIDM), and the Guggenheim Museum’s “Turn it On” Film Series, as part of the museum’s special exhibition Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World on view in New York through January 7, 2018.
About the Filmmaker:
Wen Hai (also known as Huang Wenhai) studied at the Beijing Film Academy and has been active as an independent film director since 2001. Among his best known films are FLOATING DUST (2003), which won the Georges Beauregard Award at the Festival International du Documentaire in Marseille (FID Marseille), DREAM WALKING (2005), which won the Cinéma du Réel Festival Award, and WE (2008), which won a Special Mention for the Horizons Award at the Venice International Film Festival. He was also cinematographer for Wang Bing’s THREE SISTERS (2012) and Ai Weiwei’s HUMAN FLOW (2017).
“On the front lines of China’s record-level labor unrest, Wen’s film offers rare insight into how such collective action is planned and organized, and how hard NGO employees try to stay within the moving goalposts of what activism is permissible in China.”—CNN
“Reveals and supports the birth of collective action stripped of an ideology that long stifled it.”—Cinema du Reel
“Takes the viewer to the front line of labour relations in China.”—The Times (UK)
“Shot with long takes and a fly-on-the-wall feel, the film deals with workers’ attempts to stand up to employers.”—Hong Kong Free Press
“Detailed, intimate and at times terrifying.”—South China Morning Post
“A detailed depiction on labour activists’ fighting for rights on wages and working conditions… a ‘must-see’.”—Eastern Kicks
“Captures the vital elements of labour organizing…delivers a new form of partisan filmmaking.”—V Cinema
“This extraordinary film transports the audience to the world of labor organizing in China. It rightly puts the protection of workers’ rights back in the hands of workers and the labor non-profits that support them. It should be required viewing for anyone wishing to gain an insight into China’s emerging labor movement.”—Dr. Tim Pringle, Senior Lecturer in Labour, Social Movements and Development, SOAS, University of London