There are butlers, bodyguards, and hyperreal sex dolls. But Jessica Kingdon’s Oscar-nominated documentary is really an exploration of something more profound: the meaning of the Chinese dream.
Outside a five-star hotel on the tropical Chinese island of Hainan, a young model wearing a flowing white dress and an oversized sun hat is complaining bitterly about having to work in the afternoon heat.
“I’m dying under this sun,” she says to her photographer. “Oh god, I can get a heat stroke here.”
As the woman strolls back toward the shade, the camera lingers on a middle-aged worker squatting in the sun just a few meters away. She continues weeding the lawn by hand, silent and unseen.
The shot is one of many telling moments in “Ascension” — Jessica Kingdon’s documentary exploring class and labor in today’s China, which has emerged as a surprise Oscars contender.
Shot in over 50 locations across China, “Ascension” is a sprawling yet often intimate portrait of a nation in transition. Continue to read the full article here
– This article originally appeared on Sixth Tone.