Petition (2011)



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The last decade has brought an extraordinary wave of remarkable documentaries from China, many of them revealing the social and political transformations thathave occurred as the country has become an economic giant, and that have often taken a grave toll on the lives of its citizens. PETITION, filmed over the course of more than 10 years, is among the very finest of these often heroic attempts to bear witness. Since 1996, Zhao has documented the 'petitioners' who come from all over China to make complaints in Beijing about abuses committed by their local authorities. Gathered near the complaint offices, living in most cases in makeshift shelters, the complainants wait for months or years to obtain justice. Peasants thrown off their land, workers from factories which have gone into liquidation, small homeowners who have seen their houses demolished but received no compensation, they pursue justice with unceasingstubbornness, facing the most brutal intimidation and most often finding that their hopes are in vain. Unfolding like a novel by Zola or Dickens, but with the existential absurdity of Beckett, PETITION reveals the persistent contradictions of China in the midst of powerful economic expansion. --© Anthology Archives


Zhao Liang
as Narrator

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Critic Reviews for Petition

All Critics (9) | Top Critics (3)

A brave and wrenching new documentary from China

Jan 14, 2011 | Rating: 4/5

This guerrilla-cinema essay is more than just a look at China's judicial morass; it's a dispatch from the front lines of a dictatorship.

Jan 12, 2011 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
Time Out
Top Critic

A concert of stifled voices that, together, are a brave and angry cry for democratic representation and the rule of law.

Jan 10, 2011 | Full Review…

Sad and sobering account of human-rights violations in modern-day China.

Jan 18, 2011 | Full Review…

epic and ambitious

Jan 13, 2011 | Rating: 4/5

A film that shows how China's poor go through a Kafkaesque nightmare in a largely futile effort to get justice through Beijing's petition offices. Nominally ombudsmen, these offices largely serve to prevent justice from taking place.

Jan 13, 2011 | Full Review…

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