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Wen Hai

Release year: 2010

Run time: 13 min

Film type: Experimental film


China’s shipbuilding industry now ranks first in the world.

The shipyard I chose to film is located on the Yangtze River. With the help of the local government and banks, a private company used RMB one billion to refill this tidal flat and transform it into a world-class shipyard. The ten ships currently being built here are orders from Germany, and each ship costs 15 million euros. But 60% of the money is to be used to purchase German shipboard equipment and design costs for the German shipbuilding agency. The hard work of Chinese factories is using a lot of cheap manpower to build the largest and most attractive ship hull. This is like a symbolic picture of "Made in China" on the industrial map of the world's division of labor.

"Made in China" is a familiar term for many people, but who is doing the making and how they relate to the final product is puzzling and mysterious—just like the huge keel in the movie, which appears impressively on the horizon, with the workers crouched below like ants. This image reminds me of the industrial scene in the film Metropolis, shot by Fritz Lang in 1927.


Director biography

Wen Hai studied at the Beijing Film Academy and has since 2001 been active as an independent film director. Among his best known films are Floating Dust (2004), which won the Prix Georges Beauregard at the 16th Festival International du Documentaire in Marseille in 2005; Dream Walking (2006), awarded the Grand Prize at the 2006 Cinéma du Réel; and the film We, which won the Horizons Special Mention award at the 2008 Venice International Film Festival. Wen Hai also worked as a camera man on WangBing's film Three Sisters (2012). His 2016 book The Gaze of Exile: Witnessing Chinese Independent Documentary Films (《放逐的凝视——见证中国独立纪录片》)is published in Taipei by Tendency.