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Sichuan Street Songs

Zhong Chen

Release year: 1997

Run time: 27 mins

Film type: Documentary


In the 1990s, in the western Chinese city of Chengdu, various small traders and vendors could be seen bustling through the streets and alleys, each with their own unique style and distinctive calls, selling a variety of small goods. The camera captures these vendors, some of whom have been selling their wares on the streets for decades. They either turn their product information into unique songs or use rhythmic beats from the instruments they carry as accompaniment. These calls, sometimes near and sometimes distant, resound amidst the bustling crowd, showcasing the distinct characteristics of ethnomusicology. With the advent of globalization and rapid economic development, Chengdu is inevitably transitioning from tradition to modernization. As countless skyscrapers and modern commercial shopping centers continue to rise, this traditional form of street vending will gradually disappear. The film documents the swan song of traditional street calls, representing the traditional way of life for Chinese people slowly being engulfed by the tide of modernization.


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.