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Red White

Zhong Chen

Release year: 2010

Run time: 97 mins

Film type: Documentary


The Wenchuan earthquake, which occurred in the northwestern part of Sichuan Province in 2008, claimed the lives of over 100,000 people. This is just the official figure, and the actual death toll may be higher. The film documents the post-earthquake survivors in a heavily affected area, particularly in a town called "Hongbai." It depicts their gradual recovery from trembling and fear, as they rebuild their lives, both emotionally and spiritually. The film was shot six months after the earthquake and records the lives of three individuals in Hongbai town over the course of a year. The first individual is Wang Yaofang, a 33-year-old pregnant woman. The earthquake took away her only son, who was just 12 years old. At that time, China was still under the one-child policy, but the government allowed couples who lost their only child to have another. The child in Wang Yaofang's womb became the family's hope for a new beginning after the disaster. The second individual is a Taoist priest in his 60s surnamed Lin. When the villagers believed that their lives were being disturbed by numerous deceased earthquake victims, Priest Lin tirelessly performed various rituals to guide the souls and bring peace to the living, allowing them to move forward. The third individual is an elderly barber named Zhou, known as Grandpa Zhou in the village. He bears the pain of losing his only grandson in the earthquake and spends his days running a simple barber shed. His customers are mostly elderly people who, although they survived the earthquake, cannot escape the natural cycle of life and death. They gather in the barber shed and discuss the news of the nearby elderly people who passed away one after another during the first winter after the earthquake. The film reflects the various states of people in underdeveloped and remote areas, far from modern cities, as they confront the eternal theme of life and death. It portrays the hardships that are difficult to overcome, the unyielding hope and belief, and the humor and absurdity that help alleviate the sadness. Within the industry, the film has been recognized as one of the most worth-watching documentaries on the topic of the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake.


Director biography

Xinzhong Chen, also known as Zhong Chen in English, was born in Chengdu, Sichuan, China in the 1970s. He graduated from the Department of Engineering Mechanics at Tsinghua University in China, earning a Bachelor's degree in Engineering. In the 1990s, fueled by his passion for photography and videography, he made a career change and joined Chengdu TV station. In 1998, he was awarded a full assistantship from Temple University's film department in the United States, which enabled him to pursue comprehensive film education. In 2003, he earned an MFA degree in film production. Zhong Chen's works have been selected for more than 100 international film festivals and have garnered numerous awards. He has been invited to deliver lectures at various esteemed universities in the United States, including Northwestern University, Stanford University, University of Paris VII in France, Lund University in Sweden, and several universities in China. Furthermore, he has served as a guiding lecturer at the Odense International Short Film Festival's master class in Denmark. Currently, he resides in Chengdu, China, and works as a freelancer.