SXSW Film

Daily reviews and interviews

Beijing Taxi

Documentary Feature, Documentary Competition
D: Miao Wang

Through a pall of automotive-induced carbon monoxide, Wang's rich and culturally challenging documentary traces the rapidly changing fortunes of three taxi drivers as the 2008 Beijing Olympics draw near. Among them are Bai Jiwen, a weathered veteran of both Mao and the birth of Chinese capitalism who is due to retire in six years. With a plainspoken honesty that would have been impossible (and punishable) during the cultural revolution, he explains that while Western-style capitalism has benefited many in China's premier city, it has also opened the doors for the sort of extreme poverty that was unthinkable under the late chairman. Alongside Bai are two other taxi drivers, Zhou Yi, whose rattletrap ride continuously breaks down, causing him to lose his all-important taxi permit as the Olympics approach, and Wei Caixia, a former school teacher and the only woman of the three. A born capitalist, she appears the most eager for the hoped-for changes the Olympics will bring. Ultimately, Wang's gritty, urban, people's manifesto of a film is a rare glimpse inside the new heart of China, striving for normalcy for better and for worse.


Friday, March 19, 11am, Lamar 2

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