The Iron Ministry | Chicago Reader

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82 minutes · 2014

U.S. director J.P. Sniadecki (People's Park) shot this experimental documentary about railway travel in China entirely on moving trains, his crew using mini DV cameras to buzz around the various commercial and social activities like curious insects. Like Leviathan, another recent documentary produced by the Harvard Sensory Ethnography Lab, this takes the viewer on one heck of a ride (at some points even venturing underneath the cars). But compared to the earlier film it's too familiar to inspire a sense of discovery; the overheard conversations touch on social issues (e.g., China's rapid industrialization and rampant unemployment) addressed more thoroughly in numerous recent Chinese films. In Mandarin with subtitles.

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