Films & Schedules

  • 24 City
    Er Shi Si Cheng Ji

  • Jia Zhang-ke

107 minutes

Production Company:
Xstream Pictures/China Resources/Shanghai Film Group
Executive Producer:
Chow Keung, Ren Zhonglun, Tang Yong
Jia Zhang-ke, Shozo Ichiyama, Wang Hong
Jia Zhang-ke, Zhai Yongming
Production Designer:
Liu Qiang
Yu Lik-wai, Wang Yu
Lin Xudong, Kong Jinlei
Zhang Yang
Lim Giong
Principal Cast: Joan Chen, Lv Liping, Zhao Tao

Canadian Distributor:
International Sales Agent:
MK2 International

Sunday September 0708:30PM AMC 10 Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist
Tuesday September 0903:15PM AMC 1 Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist
Thursday September 1106:15PM AMC 2 Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist

Jia Zhang-ke's 24 City recounts the dramatic and thunderous fall of the state-owned Factory 420, exploring both its physical demolition and its powerful symbolic echo of a half-century of communist rule. But it is the film's hyper-realistic, contemplative form that leaves the most lasting impression. Lingering on the ruins of an industrial era, Jia excavates the debris of collective memories to create a document that is part history and part faithful fiction.

Given the name Factory 420 as an internal military security code, the Chengdu Engine Group was founded in 1958 to produce aviation engines, and saw years of prosperous activity. Now abandoned, the factory awaits its destiny. Sold for millions to real-estate developers, it will be transformed into an emblem of market economy: a complex of luxury apartment blocks called 24 City.

As if observing the substance of his creation from a safe distance, Jia merges invented stories and historical records with actors and real workers to unite the sometimes inconvenient medium of documentary with his own aesthetic invention.

In sharp focus, former factory labourers tell their personal rosary of memories, sliding unobtrusively into the well-staged fictional monologues of three of China's most important actresses: the legendary Lv Liping, muse of the Fifth Generation filmmakers; Joan Chen, a truly international star; and Jia's regular lead, Zhao Tao. These icons from different yet complementary stages of socialist culture testify to Jia's signature storytelling ability.

Balancing personal narratives with greater historical events in a pristine human tableau that can be paired with his acclaimed Still Life, Jia approaches the monumental, meditative aesthetics of Wang Bing's West of the Tracks and He Fengming, but discovers a fresher, more accessible poetic. This is an Eastern neo-realism. Underscoring the deafening silence of perfectly photographed images, the narration's simple stream of words flows according to a measured rhythm, and with quiet precision renders the meaning of the era.

Giovanna Fulvi

Jia Zhang-ke was born in Fengyang, China, and studied at the Beijing Film Academy. He directed his first feature, Pickpocket, in 1997, and his first short documentary, In Public, in 2001. His last four fiction features and his three feature-length documentaries have all screened at the Festival: Platform (00), Unknown Pleasures (02), The World (04), Still Life (06), which won the Golden Lion at the Venice International Film Festival, Dong (06), Useless (07) and 24 City (08).

Cadillac People's Choice Award