THE FADING VILLAGE
CHINA 172 MIN, 2019
Unlike the other young people, Hou Junli has not left for the city but has remained with his family in their forlorn mountain village. Just as elsewhere in the country, members of the younger generation living in the northern Chinese province of Shanxi must leave their homes because traditional work can no longer provide them a sustainable wage. The dilapidated houses continue to resist the snow and rain, but how long can the village survive if all family ties have been severed? This long-term observational documentary presents an engaging and comprehensive look at one year in the life of humble people who love their birthplace despite its harsh realities.
Film director and photographer. Born in 1981 in Yuanping of Shanxi Province, China. He studied photography at the Meishi Film Academy of Chongqing University. He has directed two short films. The Fading Village is his first feature documentary.
Reviewing the social development of China, the government has been acting with firm resolve to boost economy and urbanization over the past decade, which contributes to an imbalance in the development of society and economy, and which furthermore enlarges the gap between the rich and the poor, the urban and the rural, as well as different regions. This film presents the current social issues, that is, the decline of Chinese rural regions and the consequent conflicts between the development of the times and the backwardness of rural life.
In the process of urbanization, all kinds of resources tend to be concentrated in the city. People leave the countryside where they have been living for long out of their desire for better life, better development opportunities, as well as better education and marriage for their offspring. Population flows from village to city, which seems an improvement in the short term, but may arouse new social problems for lack of sustained workforce in the long run.
In current social environment of China, as far as the lower-class citizens in the city are concerned, they live under great pressure. They not only handle with the high living cost, but also bear the huge education expense for their children, let alone pay for mortgages and car loans. To be exact, there is not much time and space of their own apart from endless and tiresome work. Under this circumstance, loneliness gradually becomes their real state of mind. Loneliness is in another form for people in rural areas where the decrease of the population comes along with the lack of rich spiritual life. Despite of the concrete emotional exchanges between the villagers, they still feel lonely inside, as if they live in a separate and isolated island.
Moreover，the outflow of population directly leads to the decay of the countryside. In this process, the enriched material indirectly complicates human nature, which makes people utilitarian. At the stage where people are sufficient in food and clothing while poor in spiritual satisfaction, loneliness becomes the main psychological problem haunting the characters in the film. As the old man in the film said, “Regardless of the improved living conditions, we now lead an extremely lonely life, and without the company of neighbors, no one will even know if someone is dead”. For another example, the reason why Hou Junli leaves is that he cannot bear the dull rural life anymore. While people are social animals, nevertheless, he has no object to communicate with, except for the mobile phone. The monotonous rural life leaves him no option but to gamble, and the loneliness in his heart thereby drives him away from the village.
The film explores the relationship between the times and individuals, one individual and another, as well as individuals and the environment. Loneliness is the theme that the film aims to illuminate, considering that the sense of loneliness is widespread in current society, being it urban areas or rural regions; and it plagues everyone in the film, no matter what kind of state they are in. Therefore, loneliness is to a great extent what the film attempts to express.
- 54th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival
- 28th International Festival of Ethnological Film Belgrade
- 35th Haifa International Film Festival
- 33th Leeds International Film Festival
- Visions du Réel Nyon
- DocPoint Helsinki
- DokuFest Kosovo
- Cinema Verite Tehran
DOKer 2020 — Main Competition