Self Portrait: Birth in 47 KM
CHINA / 2016 / Chinese (Hubei Dialect, Mandarin) / Color, B&W / Blu-ray / 102 min
Director, Photography, Editing, Source: Zhang Mengqi
This film depicts the lives of an old woman and a young woman in a small village in the mountains of China. The old woman is shown at length walking with her back hunched, telling stories of her seven children and the terribly difficult life of poverty they had lived. The young woman speaks of her school, of leaving for work, and of her boyfriend. The film is youthfully experimental, with the director herself joining hands with the old woman, and performing with the women moving their bodies. From this parched landscape—the filmmaker’s fond gaze pierces us to the core.
[Director’s Statement] This is the seventh work in my “Self-Portrait Series.” I made it during my sixth visit to the village known as 47 KM. That winter, I witnessed the village’s abandonment, downfall, and death. I wondered to myself why I had returned to that location again. A certain 21-year-old girl gave birth to her second child that winter. Will this one new living being bring some sign of life back to this village?
A new mother. Another mother, advanced in years. They plead with me about survival and child-rearing. The river of their sweat and tears flows without stopping. Even the land about to die still reflects a radiance. I will not be silent in front of that river.
Zhang Mengqi was born in 1987. She graduated from the Dance Academy of Minzu University of China in 2008. Since 2009, she has been a resident artist at Caochangdi Workstation as a filmmaker and a choreographer. She has created the following documentary films: Self-Portrait with Three Women (2010, YIDFF 2011), Self-Portrait: At 47KM (2011), Self-Portrait: Dancing at 47KM (2012), Self-Portrait: Dreaming at 47KM (2013), Self-Portrait: Building a Bridge at 47KM (2014), Self-Portrait: Dying at 47KM (2015), Self Portrait: Birth in 47 KM (2016).