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HOW YUKONG MOVED THE MOUNTAINS

France, 1976 (MIFF 1978)

Director: Joris Ivens, Marceline Loriden

Jons Ivens' involvement with China began in 1938, when he filmed his The 400 Million, his account of the Sino-Japanese War. He returned to China again in the '50s and '60s, then filmed, with his wife, Marceline Londan, How Yukong Moved the Mountains during 18 months in 1972-3.

The title refers to an ancient Chinese fable, retold by MaoTse-tung, about the performing of a seemingly impossible task In the original version, the task at hand was the removal of two huge mountains, in Mao's version, the removal of imperialism and feudalism.

The film concentrates on various aspects of everyday life in China, and is divided in sections of varying length The Drugstore (81 mins) Worker-community management is being set up in an experimental pharmacy in Shanghai Some highlights a gruff and somewhat recalcitrant worker is criticised, an irate customer returns some damaged goods, workers meet to determine priorities for the store.

The Oilfields (87 mins) The life of young volunteer workers and old pioneers who drill oil in China's remote steppe region in the north Some highlights young workers talk about home-sickness, an older pioneer recounts how she organised women to go into the steppes and began farming there The film includes some historic footage.

The Generator Factory (129 mins ) A highly visual film set in a Shanghai generator factory During filming, a political movement critical of the management erupted. Some highlights workers discuss material incentives, political posters appear on factory walls, a theatrical performance in the workshop.

In a Woman, A Family (108 mins ) The working and family life of Kao-Shu-ian, a welder and union official at a locomotive factory in a Peking suburb where she works. Much of the film was shot in the lively courtyard which Kao's extended family and neighbours share. Some highlights several workers criticise Kao and suggest that film making might inflate her ego, a family argues about a new pair of pants.

A Fishing Village (102 mins) Daily life slowly and intimately unfolds in a small coastal village in Shantung province. Some highlights a group of young women engage in deep-sea fishing, a captain admits that he hasn't completely understood the Cultural Revolution, students harvest algae to make their school self-supporting.

An Army Camp (57 mins.) A glimpse of the army in which officers eat with privates, which grows its own food, and which works alongside civilians in construction, militia training and farming.

Impressions of a City (Shanghai) (60 mins) A vivid portrayal of China's largest, most modern city Some highlights people eating noodles in a quick service food shop, policemen talk about traffic violations.

Professor Tchien (13 mins) A professor of physics, Mr Tchien, was harshly criticised by the Red Guards during the Cultural Revolution.

The Football Incident (The High School) (21 mins) What happens when a student kicks the ball after the bell has rung.

The Rehearsal at the Peking Opera (32 mins) A discussion of the theories of the performing arts in China are intertwined with an actual rehearsal of one of the revolutionary operas.

Behind the Scenes at the Peking Circus(16mins) Acrobats rehearse — and then, the performance.

Traditional Handicrafts (15 mins ) A film about Chinese myths and crafts, and how one generation teaches them to another.

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