Global EditionASIA 中文双语Français
Home / Culture / Film and TV

Shortlisted for Oscars, Ascension captures chase of 'Chinese dream'

China Daily | Updated: 2022-01-22 09:20
Share - WeChat

Filmmaker Jessica Kingdon traveled to 51 locations across China on a quest to document everyday scenes showing the country's economic progress and the growing class divide.

The result is Ascension, her debut feature which has been shortlisted for the Oscars and which Kingdon hopes will get audiences reflecting on the universal aspects of consumerism.

An impressionistic fly-on-the-wall documentary featuring no interviews or narration, Ascension takes viewers on a visual journey through the Chinese social classes. Structured in three parts around the themes of labor, consumerism and wealth, the film juxtaposes the lives of its subjects.

Starting off with scenes of hordes of workers looking for low-wage jobs, Kingdon takes viewers to assembly lines, private bodyguard and butler schools, and a crammed water park.

She captures former US president Donald Trump's "Make America Great" merchandise in mass production at one factory and workers at another chatting away as they assemble high-end sex dolls.

"The intention is really to create space for an audience to experience the images and sounds without passing judgment, but rather experiencing it and sitting with it, than trying to make sense of it and categorize it," the New York-based filmmaker told Reuters.

Kingdon, who is Chinese American, was inspired to make Ascension after shooting her 2017 short film Commodity City in the world's largest wholesale market in Yiwu, Zhejiang province, and witnessing its excesses of materialism.

Setting out to shoot a trilogy related to the cycle of production, consumption and waste, her plans changed when the camera started rolling.

"Originally it was going to be more environmentally driven, but as I was shooting, it became more about the quest for upward mobility and a study of materialism and a study of China's economy," Kingdon says.

Filming in over 50 locations was essential to connect the dots of the economies powering the world's supply chains and consumer lifestyles, she says.

"The film in some ways is a kind of fever dream where one thing leads to another, and it kind of snowballs," she says.

Steering clear of political commentary was paramount, says Kingdon, adding that through its China and "factory of the world" setting, she hopes Ascension will encourage audiences elsewhere to think about the industrial systems and consumption in their countries.


Most Popular
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349