The Transition Period (Shu Ji)
A film by Zhou Hao; China, 2009; 114 minutes (Mandarin and Henan Dialect with English subtitles)
Filmed with unprecedented access to a Communist Party leader, investigative filmmaker Zhou Hao offers a startlingly candid look inside Chinese politics at the local level.
As Chinese Communist Party secretary, Guo Yongchang was the most powerful man in his county, located in the rural inland province of Henan. Guo invited acclaimed documentary filmmaker Zhou Hao to record his final months in office. Through Zhou’s lens, we see Guo work tirelessly to achieve his greatest desire: for Henan to match the affluence of booming coastal areas. Zhou also captures the sordid details of local-level politics in pursuit of growth: lavish parties with foreign investors, threats to local workers protesting unpaid wages, and offers of bribes and kickbacks.
Hailed by international press as an exceptional work of investigative filmmaking, The Transition Period captures the daily life of a Chinese official with incredible ground-level detail. With boastfully candid interviews from Guo and fly-on-the-wall coverage of closed-door dealings, Zhou lays bare the unsavory dynamics within China’s top-down power structures. Penetrating in scope yet objective in its approach, The Transition Period reveals the conflicting forces shaping China’s path to prosperity.
“A rare, fascinating look at how the Chinese government operates.” Associated Press