Once Upon a Time Proletarian
Part of the documentary film series
Visions of a New China
Once Upon A Time Proletarian 曾经的无产者
Dir. GUO Xiaolu 郭小橹
China/Germany/UK. 2009. 76 min. Digibeta. English subtitles.
Thirteen chapters provide poignant snapshots of individuals navigating the modern China. An old peasant calls his country “shit” and yearns for the old days when greed and corruption were less rampant; a young car washer from the countryside calls Beijing huge and unfriendly; a young woman at a hair salon wants to find a rich husband; businessmen sit around and chat about the prices of Russian prostitutes… This meditative film offers an existentialist take on the common experience of disillusionment and disorientation in an evolving social and economic landscape that is far removed from the bygone days of Mao. Filmmaker Guo Xiaolu is also a prolific writer. Among her works are A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers and 20 Fragments of a Ravenous Youth.
"A wonderful spontaneity that captures a fleeting moment in China's history." — Daniel Trilling, New Statesman
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GUO Xiaolu (b. 1973) was born in a fishing village in southern China. She is a novelist and filmmaker who uses film and literary language to explore themes of alienation, memory, personal journeys, daily tragedies and develops her own vision of China's past and its future in a global environment. She studied film at the Beijing Film Academy and published six books in China before moving to London in 2002. The English translation of Village of Stone was shortlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize and nominated for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Her first novel written in English, A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers was shortlisted for the Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction, and 20 Fragments of a Ravenous Youth, published in 2008, was longlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize. Xiaolu's film career continues to flourish; her feature, She, A Chinese, premiered at the 2009 Locarno International Film Festival and took the highest prize, the Golden Leopard. Her documentary We Went to Wonderland (2008) was selected for the New Directors/New Films Festival in New York in 2008.
The Visions of a New China film series is supported in part by a grant from the Open Society Foundations. Additional support is provided by the Center on U.S.-China Relations and New York State Council on the Arts.
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