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Watch Jia Zhangke’s New Short ‘Smog Stories’

Written by on January 22, 2015 

jia zhangke smog journeys

I think Jia Zhangke is among Asia’s most significant filmmakers largely because his social criticisms can take so many forms, oscillating from feature to documentary and, within either, various genres — romance, action film, meta-textual document, sci-fi, etc. — while maintaining a consistent excellence. And so those who’ve only seen the man’s recent, hugely entertaining A Touch of Sin shouldn’t ignore his Greenpeace-packed documentary short, Smog Journeys, which “traces two families from two different backgrounds; one a mining family in Hebei province, and the other a trendy middle class family in Beijing. Both face a similar fate.”

All of which is presented in a montage-heavy bit of work, favoring an impressionistic vision of modern-day China and the environmental issues that are so synonymous with it. This is not Jia’s opportunity to inundate us with doom and gloom, fortunately, his goal instead being “a film that enlightens people, not frightens them”; it was thus also the conduit for telling a story about “the power of life [that] remains in people even in horrible environments.” If not the most significant thing he’s ever composed, it’s a nice check-in with an essential artist, as well as a nice hold-over until the next feature arrives.

Watch the short below (via Keyframe Daily):

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