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Jia Zhangke's Still LIfe: Destruction as Intercession

This essay is intended as a kind of meditation on
stillness, or, more precisely, the stopping power
that characterizes Still Life (2006), looming as it
does on the border of the real and the imaginary,
of time and history, of documentary and fiction,
and ultimately, politics and “life.” Many commentators
on contemporary Chinese cinema have insisted
on the realism of Jia Zhangke’s films and their
quasi-documentary aesthetic as a means to deduce
their political relevance. But if Still Life really is a
film of great political interest, it is not only by virtue
of its striving to bear witness to a China in full
mutation. How, then, should we envisage the ethical
and political tenor of Jia Zhangke’s filmic interventions
in relation to their acclaimed realism?

Author Name: 
Erik Bordeleau
Journal: 
Scapegoat: Architecture/Landscape/Political Economy