Review: ‘My Land’

Hot Docs 2016

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2 mins read

My Land
(China, 83 min.)
Dir. Jian Fan
Programme: Command + Control (North American Showcase)

 

My Land joins recent docs such as Ai Weiwei’s Ping’an yueqing and other films that recently screened at TIFF’s Crisis of the Real: New Chinese Independent Documentaries series in challenging the state’s suppression of its people. As Chinese citizens are displaced from their homes and beleaguered by officials laying claim to their land, My Land, like Ping’an yueqing, shows courageous countrymen taking a stand against an unbeatable oppressor.

This lo-fi, no frills doc tells the story of Chen Jun and Li Xiaofeng, a married couple working the land on the periphery of Beijing, and their battle with the local government, which decides to turn the farmland into real estate developments. Chen and Li refuse to capitulate and My Land stands with them as they persevere. The images are troubling as the family, including their young daughter and parents, go without water for days and face recurring torment from officials.

The film ironically shows Chen receiving an award from the government for being a model citizen of Beijing. The prize coincides with the escalation of the officials’ efforts to displace the family and My Land ironically shows the propaganda machine of the Chinese government in full force. My Land coveys the strong spirit of a people, but a nation under duress.

My Land screens:
-Monday, May 2 at Innis Town Hall at 6:00 PM
-Wednesday, May 4 at Cineplex Scotiabank at 9:45 PM
-Saturday, May 7 at Innis Town Hall at 4:30 PM

Please visit the POV Hot Docs hub for more coverage on this year’s festival.

Hot Docs runs April 28 – May 8. Visit www.hotdocs.ca for more information.

 

Pat Mullen is the publisher of POV Magazine. He holds a Master’s in Film Studies from Carleton University where his research focused on adaptation and Canadian cinema. Pat has also contributed to outlets including The Canadian Encyclopedia, Paste, That Shelf, Sharp, and Complex. He is the vice president of the Toronto Film Critics Association.

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