Stratum 1: The Visitors
Release year: 2013
Run time: 127 mins
Film type: Documentary
Originally envisioned as a documentary about urban demolition in Tongzhou, a suburb of Beijing, the director decided that a more essayistic approach to the subject matter was required to do it justice. Guided by two characters as they walk through the rubble, we hear stories of childhood trauma that accompany hallucinatory scenes of urban devastation. Cong uncovers surreally beautiful images from the layers of this collapsing world, excavating its history even as this is threatened with erasure and forgetting.
Poet and filmmaker Cong Feng was born in Chengde in 1972. He has previously worked at the National Satellite Meteorology Centre of China and as cultural editor for The International Herald Leader. He has also published two volumes of poetry and taught English to secondary school students. Since 2008, four of his documentaries have screened at the Beijing Independent Film Festival, including the film shot at the school where he taught, The Unfinished History of Life (2010).