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The Square

Ma Zhandong

Release year: 2011

Run time: 10 minutes

Film type: Documentary


Public space is symbolic of our country's ideology. In the explicit concept of public usage is an implicit agreement that we are merely “permitted” to use this space. It can never belong to us. Night scenes exacerbate this duality, as myriad personal performances of play, rest, and joy in public space manifest collective mania. Unconscious personal joy effaces traditional use of public space, showcasing emotional release and escape. Traditionally, there was an emphasis upon collective ideology and ways of living. A personal sense of existence was subjugated by the collective group. Today's city life reveals the co-opting of individual strategies of expression as a tendency toward codification of behavior. What appears as a collective mania is an absurd montage unfolding across our screen....


Director biography

Ma Zhandong is an independent documentary producer who has filmed and produced tens of documentary films, long and short. His works have been screened at film festivals in Germany, the Netherlands, Iceland, Denmark, France, Japan and Hong Kong. He has also made short art films and videos. He was interviewed by ARTE in 2009. He served as a final film juror for the 14th Beijing Independent Film Exhibition in China and as a shortlisting juror for the 12th FIRST Youth Film Exhibition.

His work One Day in May won the best documentary award in 2011 at the Chinese Documentary Festival in Hong Kong. Lao Zhao won the Documentary Humanitarian Award at the 12th China Independent Film Festival. Everybody is Nobody won the 33th ATP Award for Excellence in Tokyo).

Now he lives and works in Chengdu, China.