Directed by Jiu-Liang Wang
Special Jury Award First Appearance, 2016 Amsterdam International Documentary Film Festival
Nominated for Grand Jury Prize World Cinema: Documentary, 2017 Sundance Film Festival
Eleven year old Yi-Jie plays with her younger brothers in piles of used plastic materials, often made into wondrous simulacra of modern life. Sheets of confectionery wrapping become colorful wallpaper; old newspapers and grocery store leaflets take flight, either as a superhero cape or an English lesson. While her family lives and works alongside their employer in the ever-continuous task of sifting, processing, melting and reformatting the vestiges of the first world, Yi-Jie takes care of the household. Being put to task by her ne’er-do-well father, a Yi minority man who brought his family to a small industrial town that is thousands of miles away from home, Yi-Jie remains ever willful and perspicacious, stealing moments away to learn a new word or concept — or to observe the parallel lives of Kun, their family’s employer, while he aspires and works hard towards achieving a better life for his own peasant-rooted family.
Director Wang Jiu-liang spent years investigating the post-consumer waste industrial systems which link China to the rest of the world (and vice versa), beginning with his renowned photography work and documentary BEIJING BESIEGED BY WASTE (2011). His unique approach to the award-winning documentary PLASTIC CHINA, however, remains far from didactic or inflammatory. Closely following two families over six years, this work invites us to see the universal in the ultra-personal: we may witness difficult family conversations, take stock in the banality (and toxicity) of their work, decipher divisions along ethnic and social classes, and even rejoice at the miracle of life. Coming full circle, then, the film may even prepare us to answer the question: How are we personally connected to one girl’s dreams of going to school, and what are we doing about it?
— Chanel Kong
Community Partner: 8Asians.com
Director of award-winning and impactful documentary film BEIJING BESIEGED BY WASTE. WANG graduated from Communication University of China, School of Cinematic Arts in 2007. From 2007 to 2008, he finished a set of photography work about Chinese traditional superstitions. He started investigating the landfill pollution around Beijing in 2008. In 2011, he finished BEIJING BESIEGED BY WASTE, a set of photography work and a documentary with the same name. From 2012 to now, he has been working on the documentary PLASTIC CHINA.
Producers: Ruby Chen, Guan-Ting Yue, Jing Liu
Director: Jiu-Liang Wang
Supervising Editor: Jean Tsien
Editor: Bob Lee