Film: Cloudy Mountains (2012)

May 6, 2013 | By

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Film: Good / DVD Transfer:  n/a / DVD Extras: n/a

Label: n/a / Region: n/a / Released: n/a

Genre: Documentary / Mining / Hot Docs 2013

Synopsis:  Bleak fly-on-the-wall documentary of seasonal workers at a remote Chinese asbestos packing plant.

Special Features: n/a.

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Review:

Winner of the Special Jury Prize, International Feature Documentary, Hot Docs 2013

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Zhu Yu’s quiet, fly on the wall portrait of asbestos packers in a remote Chinese mountain region has potent, stark images and quiet moments of unease to make viewers squirm (a worker’s persistent eye-rubbing to dislodge a poisonous fibrous glob makes a simple, cringe-worthy comment on the utter lack of modern preventative gear in the plant), but the narrative is all over the place, lacking any cohesive structure. The intention was likely to reveal in almost mundane detail the routine chores and isolated lives of the workers, and mimic the monotony of the transition from days to nights within a region layered in poisonous grey dust, but Yu repeats a lot of the same visual information while avoiding any details of how the dangerous fibre is mined before it’s conveyed to the surface for bagging & shipping. The effort to maintain a functioning, social community in what’s essentially a tent city adjacent to Hell’s crevice is fascinating, but Cloudy Mountains feels like an assembly edit interrupted by the odd traditional on-camera interview.

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© 2013 Mark R. Hasan

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External References:

Hot Docs 2013 Entry.

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