Dead Souls

(Si ling hun) 死靈魂
France/Switzerland 2018. Dir: Wang Bing. 495 min. DCP

“The best film of the year ... A heroic act of historical witness.”

“A monumental achievement: as a documentary, as a humanist tribute, and as an effort at historical rectification.”

VANCOUVER PREMIERE! Wang Bing’s colossal oral-history documentary, eight hours and fifteen minutes in length, bears witness to the living memory of those who suffered, terribly, during a little-known chapter of China’s recent past. The Jiabiangou and Mingshui “re-education” camps, in the Gobi Desert in China’s northwest province of Gansu, housed political prisoners deemed “ultra-rightists” and anti-communists during Mao’s Anti-Rightist Campaign of the late 1950s. Many prisoners starved to death there; many others endured grim hardships but survived. Wang’s staggering film, minimalist and immersive, consists, in the main, of intimate interviews with more than a hundred now-elderly victims from across China. As they testify to the remarkable cruelties they endured, these non-dead souls also astonish and humble us with their courage and resilience. Dead Souls has been compared by many to Claude Lanzmann’s Shoah. Wang’s lone fiction film, 2010’s The Ditch, was a drama set in the Jiabiangou camp. “Wang’s career is a testament to the capacity of documentary filmmaking to shine a spotlight on those whose stories are in danger of being suppressed or actively cast into oblivion. Dead Souls is a monument of historical remembrance and reckoning” (Anthology Film Archive, New York). In Mandarin with English subtitles.

Dead Souls screens in three parts, each approximately 165 minutes in length.

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Purchase online here

Regular Cinematheque admission prices otherwise in effect for this program. Annual $3 membership required.


SHOWTIMES - click links below to buy tickets

Part I (165 min.)

Sunday, May 26 - 1:00 pm
Single Bill | Double Bill

Monday, May 27 - 7:00 pm
Single Bill

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Part II (165 min.)

Sunday, May 26 - 4:15 pm
Single Bill | Double Bill

Tuesday, May 28 - 7:00 pm
Single Bill

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Part III (165 min.)

Sunday, May 26 - 7:45 pm
Single Bill | Double Bill

Wednesday, May 29 - 7:00 pm
Single Bill

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Dead Souls Marathon Presentation
Sunday, May 26

Part I - 1:00 pm | Part II - 4:15 pm | Part III - 7:45 pm


Dead Souls is both an engrossing epic and a profound moral act in and of itself.”

Film Society of Lincoln Center | full review