Ghost Town | Chicago Reader

Ghost Town

Directed by Zhao Dayong, this 2008 documentary presents Zhizilou, a small town in Yunan province, as evidence that the Chinese economic miracle has eroded once-thriving rural cultures by drawing villagers to large cities. In the first part, an elderly man who was jailed for two decades because of his fervent Christianity lives off the generosity of the son he belittles, a dedicated pastor whose sermons to a dwindling congregation address the breakdown of the traditional family. In the second act Zhao observes lovers who are forced to part so the parents of the young woman can sell her off to a richer man, and in the last he follows a 12-year-old boy who's been abandoned by his mother and father. The lush mountain scenery contrasts vividly with the crumbling town, but the biggest impact comes from the astonishing candor of the residents. In Mandarin with subtitles.

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