Dir. Du Haibin, 2009, 116 min.
"This is an independent documentary at its most sophisticated." - Shelly Kraicer, Vancouver International Film Festival
Du Haibin's award-winning documentary of the earthquake that devastated China's Sichuan province in 2008 explores how victims, citizens and government respond to a national tragedy. The Great Sichuan Earthquake took place at 14:28 on May 12, 2008, causing 70,000 deaths and 375,000 casualties. Days later, Du Haibin visited Sichuan to capture the devastation as well as the recovery effort. Survivors were reduced to salvaging destroyed pig farms in the mountains, selling scrap metal for pennies, and pillaging homes. Seven months later, as the nation celebrated Chinese New Year, Du returned to see how life had changed in the stricken villages. Sidestepping the highly controlled media tours, Du found scenes not seen on official TV, exposing the gap between the Party's promises and the disaster victims' reality.
Using a poetic, elliptical narrative structure, Du Haibin delivers a vision of human devastation that is "fascinating, beautifully crafted" (Ronnie Scheib, Variety). Beyond describing the disaster and its consequences, the director also examines the prominence of media and consumerism in contemporary China: tourists buy DVDs of horrific post-earthquake footage, souvenir albums of corpses, and pose for photos at sites of the highest death tolls. Du depicts a world in chaos, both material and moral. "Without judgment but with a deep compassion for their subjects, the lmmakers of 1428 bring us a myriad of individual stories of absurdity, confusion and grief" (Cherise Fong, CNN).