A film by Wang Bing
2007, 184 minutes
No. 059

Winter in China. A town in the snow. Night is falling. Wrapped in her red coat, an elderly woman walks through a housing complex to her modest apartment. Inside, Fengming settles into her armchair and remembers.

She begins to recount the gripping and almost unbelievably heartrending story of her troubled experiences as a once-ardent member of the socialist movement - a former journalist accused of harboring right-wing tendencies, separated from her family, and sent to a re-education camp where she endured hard labor, starvation, and humiliation.

Wang keeps the camera fixed on Fengming, avoiding any kind of stylistic embellishments. As the darkness outside deepens, her words gather in force, revealing both the power of oral history and the strength of this extraordinary woman.

Often cited as one of the great documentary achievements, Fengming: A Chinese Memoir is a tour-de-force, a magnificent and dazzling work, and it is now available in the U.S. for the first time.

* Official Selection, Cannes Film Festival

"A heartbreaking, scathing documentary... The film has a moral authority similar to that of the Holocaust documentary “Shoah,” to which it ingeniously alludes. The long first shot, the only one set outdoors, follows Fengming as she walks—silently—home. In China, which (unlike Germany) is still ruled by the same party that committed the crimes being recounted, the truth, Wang Bing suggests, can still not be spoken in public; his film brilliantly, bravely brings that silence to light." - The New Yorker

"Gripping. A sweeping saga. Fengming stands alongside first-person precedents like Shirley Clarke’s Portrait of Jason (1967) and Errol Morris’s The Fog of War (2004) in its ability to wrest powerful effects from the deceptively simple setup of a lone raconteur." - Artforum

"In his masterful, nine-hour documentary, West of the Tracks, director Wang Bing used a rural freight railway as a conduit into China's uneasy transition from a planned to a market economy. In this equally remarkable follow-up, he finds in a single room, and in He Fengming's harrowed eyes, another uncanny metaphor for individual lives undone by the dreams of nations." - Village Voice