Children are not afraid of Death, Children are afraid of Ghosts

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A challenging mix of documentary, animation and experimental filmmaking investigating the story of the group suicide of children in a small village deep in the mountains of Guizhou in 2015.

DIR. Rong Guang Rong
DOCUMENTARY / EXPERIMENTAL
China, 2017
IN MANDARIN WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES
85 MINS

UK PREMIERE

The amazingly-titled Children are not afraid of Death, Children are afraid of Ghosts announces the arrival of an exciting new talent in Chinese independent cinema in Rong Guang Rong. A challenging mix of documentary, animation and experimental filmmaking, the film sees the director investigating the story of the group suicide of children in a small village deep in the mountains of Guizhou in 2015. As he tries to get to the bottom of the mystery and to uncover why the children apparently took their lives by drinking pesticide, he comes up against government officials and organised crime who try to block his efforts. It becomes increasingly clear that the local authorities don’t want him there, and their campaign against Rong sees him being intimidated and arrested, his camera and footage being seized.

Despite this, Rong finds highly creative ways to complete his film, which emerges as a fascinatingly multi-layered work, experimental, poetic and challenging in the ways in explores not only the case itself, but the societal conditions of hunger, poverty and insecurity which might have led to it. At the same time he reflects on his own fears and hopes for his children, and the result is a stunning and highly personal film which is haunting and deeply philosophical, offering a troubling portrait of modern day China that’s impossible to shake, even after the credits have rolled.

Director’s Statement:

“I,” a father, living in Beijing, hit by the tragic suicide of four brothers and sisters in Bijie, Guizhou, leave the city. I attempt in disguise to sneak into the thatched bamboo village where the accident happened, but when the local government authorities find out, I am caught and detained, and in the broad daylight, frightened by a big lacerated mouth to the point I reach an absolute obedience.

With my deleted footage, in dire straits, I leave. I wander around the mountains and the community, children of the mountain remind me of childhood memories, this flashing together with images of the security officer‘s lacerated mouth are torturing my gallbladder.

I experienced the pain of intermittent flashes, be close to death is not a dreadful struggle but those moments of lacerating flashes are; Here I am shaking, at once I feel I’ll abandon my dignity, I have to escape from here! While those children on the mountains are immersed in such forces day after day,

I give up, I escape, a coward returns to his family life in Beijing, and the ghosts go on circling in our heads…This film is the absurd I‘d lived through in Bijie.

Awards

NETPAC Award – International Film Festival Rotterdam

About Rong Guang Rong

Rong Guang Rong was born in Jilin, China in 1984, and currently lives and works in Beijing. At the age of 16 he left home and moved to Wenzhou to study photography at 3W Photographic Studio, before moving to Beijing in 2003 to study in the 798 Art District with artist and photographer Xu Yong and then at Yang Jingsun’s 3 Photo Studio. Rong Guang Rong works as professional photographer and as the director for documentaries on the making of on feature films to support himself while creating his first art works and studying cinema. In 2008 he began to take part in art exhibitions across China as well as travelling abroad to further study video and cinema. In 2011 Rong Guang Rong and Italian sinologist Ambra Corinti founded Zajia lab, a self-financed art project (www.zajialab.org ). His latest projects are focused on documentary film making, and his first feature-length fiction film 8+1 is currently in post-production.

Selected filmography

Farce (2013)
A Nameless Soldiers (2016)
Children are not afraid of Death, Children are afraid of Ghosts (2017)

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