Wang Bing, West of the Tracks – Part III: Rails, 2003. © the artist

Wang Bing, West of the Tracks – Part III: Rails, 2003. © the artist

Wang Bing’s three-part, nine-hour portrait of industrial decline is considered the most monumental achievement in the Chinese new documentary movement. Once the heart of state-run heavy industry, Tiexi district, in the northeastern city of Shenyang, is a scene of decay, as economic reforms, bankruptcies, relocation, and demolition have left factories empty and entire communities jobless. Filmed over two years, the film peels away everyday surfaces to reveal rich layers of history and culture.

Part III: Rails is a portrait of the last supply trains that continue to deliver raw materials to the decaying factories. Passing through the ruins of abandoned homes and foundries, the conductors reflect with stoic restraint upon the gradual erasure of the world around them. A father-son team of metal scavengers becomes a vivid yet ultimately bleak vision of fragile hope, their daily struggle revealing how very little of value can be extracted from the wasteland left in the name of progress. The film could be watched in its entirety or as each individual part.

West of the Tracks was part of the Festival focus on Wang Bing, for information about other screenings see Wang Bing: Industrial Films.

Wang Bing was born in Xi’an, Shaanxi Province, China in 1967, and studied photography at the Lu Xun Academy of Fine Art in 1992, and cinematography at Beijing Film Academy in 1995. He began his independent filmmaking career in 1999. 

Wang Bing is a leading figure of the exciting documentary movement within Chinese cinema over the last decade. He is renowned for his epic documentaries, from the vast nine-hour panorama of a dying industrial factory town in West of the Tracks to Crude Oil’s real-time portrait of the working day of oil extraction workers. His films offer profound meditations on history, industry and human suffering caused by the inexorable progress of modern China, forging a rare intimacy with everyday life.

Curated by AV Festival. UK Premiere. 

West of the Tracks Part III: Rails
Dir. Wang Bing

Special offer £15 for all three parts, available direct from Tyneside Cinema by phone or in person

Mon 3 March 2014, 5.45–8.15pm

Tyneside Cinema

10 Pilgrim Street
Newcastle NE1 6QG

Original Language Title: Tie Xi Qu
Year: 2002
Runtime (total): 132min
Format: Digibeta
Country: China
Language: Chinese with English subtitles
Production Company: Zhu Zhu, Wang Bing Film Workshop
DoP: Wang Bing
Editor: Adam Kerby
Sales: Kong Lihong