Reading Docufiction: Jia Zhangke’s 24 City

David H. Fleming's picture

Jia Zhangke’s 24 City (2008) combines the work of professional actors with interviews of actual Chinese state employees to create a blended genre that illustrates changing economic fortunes in the 21st century. Through the medium of a new, hybrid filmic language, Jia articulates his concerns about the limitations of postsocialist realism and documentary in narrating factory workers’ emotional struggles with history and reality. The synthetic vision of docufiction, controversial and unsettling as it is, gives Jia the philosophical freedom to contrast, juxtapose, and integrate the real and the fictional in ways that defy and overwhelm conventional cinematic storytelling. Using narrative ellipsis, tableaux shots and intertextual references, Jia expands on the Deleuzean idea of ‘the power of the false’ to negotiate the roles of docufiction directors and complicate his own intellectual position as insider and outsider, artist and activist.

Author Name: 
Deppman, Hsui-Chuang
Journal of Chinese Cinemas 8:3 2015
Deppman, Hsui-Chuang (2015) ’Reading Docufiction: Jia Zhangke’s 24 City’ in Journal of Chinese Cinemas 8:3, pp. 188-208.