2018-03-12, WANG KAIHAO

After the premiere of the documentary Amazing China on Feb 27, prolonged applause broke out in a Beijing auditorium. A retired civil servant said she had a flight to catch but kept watching the film until the end of the credits.

The 90-minute documentary, Amazing China, which is coproduced by China Central Television and China Film Corp, opened in theaters nationwide on March 2.

The film focuses on the major achievements the country has made since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in 2012 under Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era.

Speaking about the documentary, Wei Tie, the director, said: “The film arouses Chinese pride from deep inside.”

The documentary focuses on key Chinese infrastructure projects in aerospace, high-speed rail, the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, and the world’s largest single-dish telescope — the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope, FAST.

The documentary also informs viewers that seven of the world’s 10 biggest sea ports are now in China. And that the country now has the longest high-speed rail network in the world.

In the film, Lin Ming, the chief engineer for the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge project, said: “In the past, what kind of projects we took up was decided by what kind of facilities we had. But, nowadays, no matter what kind of projects we are assigned, we develop the technology to complete it.”

His voice is calm but his words show the country’s self-confidence.

Speaking of the significance of the new documentary for the Chinese, La Peikang, the head of China Film Corp, said: “It’s not only about showing the achievements, but presenting the status quo of China.

“The film will help people to know our country better. The moving stories behind the Chinese miracles reflect the people’s endeavors and spirit.”

A good documentary is usually a vivid portrayal of individual stories rather than slogans, and Amazing China is no exception.

One of the most touching moments in the film is probably footage from an interview of Nan Rendong, often called the “father of FAST”.

Sadly, after more than 20 years of working at the site, the chief scientist and engineer of the project passed away last year due to lung cancer.

Like him, the film salutes many other heroes supporting the country’s progress in science.

Amazing China also focuses on common people.

And, from improvement in people’s livelihoods and enhancing ecological protection, to nurturing of the creative industry and opening up to foreigners — the film shows many examples of individual efforts and how that makes the country collectively march toward a promising future.

Through the film, a path of innovative, coordinated, green, open and shared development, as projected by China’s leadership, becomes visible.

In the film, you see a young Tibetan woman volunteering in rural areas to help people eradicate poverty.

You also see a successful entrepreneur from the coastal Fujian province who settles in the Gobi Desert, in Northwest China, take up a new career growing grapes.

The movie shows that their work is not easy, but their spirit and unwavering belief make it possible to achieve their targets. And, they are just representative of the many Chinese who work as hard.

China is the world’s second-largest economy. But the country still faces “the contradiction between unbalanced and inadequate development and the people’s ever-growing needs for a better life”, as stated in the CPC’s 19th National Congress in October. However, as this cinematic production proves, the documentary is a good way for the country to boost self-confidence and to aspire for a brighter future.

Parts of Amazing China were taken from a popular six-episode TV documentary of the same English title, which was broadcast on CCTV last year.

The TV documentary was rated 8.5 out of 10 on Douban, a major film review website.

Speaking about how the TV documentary was adapted for the big screen, Qi Guangquan, the chief supervisor of the economy channel of CCTV, said it is a good example of using brilliant TV footage.

“The soundtrack, editing and postproduction make the film appealing,” he said.

“The documentary sheds light on people behind the achievements. Each one is a builder of the Chinese Dream.”

The country’s energy, as conveyed through Amazing China, can be felt in the film industry as well.

By the end of February, China had 53,824 movie screens, including 47,466 for three-dimensional productions — surpassing North America, which had the most screens earlier.

And the gross box-office revenue from Chinese cinemas in February hit 10 billion yuan ($1.58 billion).

February’s takings were a new world record, breaking the July 2011 record of $1.4 billion in the North American market.

Last year, Wolf Warrior 2, a patriotic film based on the evacuation of Chinese citizens from Yemen in 2015, made 5.7 billion yuan at the box office and became the highest-grossing film in Chinese cinematic history.

Amazing China also feels like a salute to Chinese cinema and the 2015 evacuation scene is portrayed in the documentary as well.

As for innovations in the documentary, Rao Shuguang, head of the China Film Critics Association, said: “We see many difficult shooting techniques used in Amazing China like aerial shots.

“The development of film production techniques also reflects the country’s growing in strength. They show that China is responsibly trying to build a shared future for humanity.”

Rao said the big screen gives audiences a better perspective compared to TV news, adding that such documentaries based on news are best seen on the big screen. He also said that Amazing China can be used as a template to showcase the country’s future achievements on film.

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