This film is set during a riot of displaced people objecting to the demolition of their homes. The Shadow Play shows roaring excavators, falling telephone poles and collapsing walls, and people colliding, all through hand-held cameras and fast changing cuts. Tang Yijie, a representative of the government’s Urban Construction Committee, is found dead having fallen from a high-story building, and newcomer detective Yang Jiadong (Jing Boran) investigates the case. He reveals that the relationship between Tang Yijie and his wife, Lin Hui, and their daughter Nuo (Ma Sichun) was not great.
Director Lou Ye said, “This film will help us remember both our time and us.” He depicts the destroyed Xian village and the massive uprising that happened while a new town centered on Guwangzhou was being built. News reporting on this event was banned, so even Guwangzhou citizens didn’t know about it. As The Shadow Play reveals the naked truth of the ravaged China hidden behind material prosperity, and most surprising is that it passed China’s censorship and was released in China, despite major difficulties in production. (Ellen Y.D. KIM)