Still Life 2 (2160x1023)
Still Life, © Xstream Pictures (2006)

ACMI presents

Still Life


Jia Zhangke | China | 2006 | Unclassified (15+)

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Thu 8 Feb - Sun 25 Feb 2024

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As a city adjacent to the Three Gorges Dam project prepares to forever drown, two lost souls arrive, each in search of a loved one who has drifted out of contact.

An extraordinary glimpse into the psychology, subtext and austere reality of modern Chinese culture.

Ted Fry (Seattle Times)

The city of Fengjie sits beside the Yangtze River which in recent years has risen due to the massive Three Gorges Dam which is underway but not complete. Having spent all his money to travel there, coalminer Sanming arrives broke in search of his wife who he hasn't seen in 16 years. Her address is now underwater and with the rest of the city earmarked for further flooding, he sets out to find his wife and temporary employment amidst a city in government-mandated decay.

Meanwhile, another stranger arrives in the city in search of a loved one of her own.

Curator's Note

Jia Zhangke's beautifully measured film is an elegant contradiction. On one hand, the film moves languidly through a city in its dying days. Small human dramas are discretely captured against the backdrop of a humblingly beautiful landscape.

Juxtaposing this is a country embarking on large-scale industrialisation and urbanisation at a breakneck speed and a major infrastructure project that resulted in entire cities being demolished and millions of people being ordered to relocate. In a way, there's nothing still about this chapter in Chinese history.

Still Life made its world premiere at the 63rd Venice International Film Festival where it was awarded the Golden Lion, the festival's highest honour. Today the film marks a key moment in the director's career as both a film that captures the major themes of his films to date, and one of the first to truly demand international attention.

Format: 35mm
Language: Mandarin with English subtitles
Source: Memento Films
Courtesy: Memento Films
Runtime: 111 mins

Event duration

111 mins


Unclassified (15+)

Viewers under the age of 15 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.


Cinema 1, Level 2
ACMI, Fed Square

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