01: Tie Xi Qu: West of the Tracks - Rust

28 March, 2018 - 14:00

West of the Tracks presents us with the panoramic spectacle of progress collapsing. Industry folds and empties its plants; workers lose their jobs and their benefits; people are idle and demoralized, and then they are unhoused, and they demolish their own former dwellings to cash in on their value as scrap; people scavenge among gargantuan ruins that loom like the remnants of a forgotten civilization of giants. It is every twentieth-century mural depiction of the struggle for the good life – socialist or capitalist – viewed in reverse. It is as if the film were being run backwards, or like the last lines of Rilke’s Duino Elegies: “And we, who think of happiness / as rising, would feel the emotion / that nearly overwhelms us / when a happy thing falls.” (Luc Sante)

Tie Xi Qu: West of the Tracks - part 1

Wang Bing

Part I: Rust explores the legacy of fifty years of Chinese central economic planning and the ways in which Chinese individuals, families and society have been shaped by decades of living under the socialist economic system. The film focuses on the daily lives and work routines of Chinese workers in three different financially troubled state-owned factories within the Tiexi district of northeastern China. As the factories slide closer and closer to bankruptcy, massive layoffs force workers out of their predictable, familiar factory environments and into an uncertain and frightening future.


Mandarin with English subtitles