Once the thriving capital of Imperial China, the city of Datong now lies in near ruins. Not only is it the most polluted city in the country, it is also crippled by decrepit infrastructure and even shakier economic prospects. But Mayor Geng Tanbo plans to change all that, announcing a bold, new plan to return Datong to its former glory, the cultural haven it was some 1,600 years ago. Such declarations, however, come at a devastatingly high cost. Thousands of homes are to be bulldozed, and a half-million of its residents (30 percent of Datong’s total population) will be relocated under his watch. Whether he succeeds depends entirely on his ability to calm swarms of furious workers and an increasingly perturbed ruling elite. The Chinese Mayor captures, with remarkable access, a man and, by extension, a country leaping frantically into an increasingly unstable future. —H.V.
Screens With I am Hong Kong—The Umbrella Movement shows how citizens’ passion for a more just future brings about a peaceful but powerful social movement, in the midst of defamation and attacks. This film documents what Hong Kong means to the interviewees, without any political intention.
Hao Zhou started his career as a photographer for China’s national Xinhua News Agency and Southern Weekly. His debut documentary, Hou Jie Township (2001), won the Black Pottery Award at the Yunnan Multi-Culture Visual Festival. He went on to direct Senior Year, which won the Humanitarian Award for Best Documentary at the Hong Kong International Festival in 2006, followed by Using, which clinched the Asia Award at the Taiwan International Documentary Festival in 2008.