Deng Xiaoping’s economic reforms, which began in 1978 following the death of Mao Zedong in 1976, resulted in rapid economic growth that catapulted the Chinese nation through a period of intense modernization and development. In this series, we use Chinese youth as a lens through which to understand the corresponding changes in Chinese society, examining films that feature young people as main characters. By turns dramatic and comic, these films take a close look at people’s life experiences during these turbulent years and at how they defined themselves amidst great change.
Platform (站台), 2000
Director: Jia Zhangke
Runtime: 154 minutes
Language: Mandarin with English Subtitles
A humanistic epic set in director Jia Zhangke’s hometown in Fenyang, Shanxi province, Platform focuses on a group of amateur theater troupe performers whose trajectory mirrors the massive socio-economic changes sweeping China. It opens in 1979 with the troupe performing numbers idolizing Mao Zedong and ends in the ’80s when their shows now reflect the Western influences pervading the country. An international breakthrough for Zhangke, it has been repeatedly hailed as one of the greatest films of the 2000s.