France, Switzerland 2018 | 496 minutes | Mandarin | Hebrew, English subtitles
In China’s northwestern Gansu Province, lie the remains of countless prisoners abandoned in the Gobi Desert sixty years ago. Designated as “ultra-rightists” during the Communist Party’s Anti-Rightist campaign of 1957, they starved to death at the Jiabiangou and Mingshui reeducation camps. Award-winning Chinese director Wang Bing’s film brings us face to face with survivors who talk of the horrors they endured, inconceivable brutality, and their extraordinary fates. This eight-hour film is a monumental work based on 600 hours of documented interviews with 120 survivors. Despite its length, the result is remarkably clear-eyed and focused, deserving of Cannes critics’ comparison to Claude Lanzmann’s Shoah.