DocHouse and CVF are proud to present the Golden Horse Award winning Cotton from acclaimed Chinese documentary director Zhou Hao, whose Emergency Room China had its World Premiere as the opening film of CVF 2013. For over a decade, Zhou has been making independent documentaries probing many of China’s most urgent social issues, including migrant labour, drug abuse, law enforcement and political corruption, and his latest film continues this by exploring the lives and experiences of the unseen work force behind China’s cotton trade.
The character driven documentary follows four principal characters, including a farmer, a cotton picker and workers in cotton factories, and takes the viewer on an odyssey into the heart of an incredibly labour-intensive industry, from planting and growing cotton in the North-Western province of Xinjiang through to fashion events in Southern Guangdong. Through their experiences Zhou examines the ‘social contract’ offered by the Chinese leaders to the citizens of the country, supposedly aimed at bringing about a new and harmonious society, but which is instead recreating the old class systems previously destroyed by the communist ideals and revolution of Mao. With ruthless commercial competition and a win at all costs attitude driving the industry, the incredibly humanistic film depicts its protagonists being subjected to harsh conditions as they try desperately to climb the social ladder of modern China, though at the same time maintaining extraordinary courage and dignity.
Zhou Hao is a filmmaker based in Guangzhou and is one of the leading figures of the Chinese Independent Documentary Movement. Earlier in his career, he worked as a photographer for the Photography Department of Xinhua News Agency (National News Agency of China) and the Southern Weekly. He began making documentaries in 2001 and his debut film Houjie Township won the Black Pottery Award at the Yunnan Multi-culture Visual Festival. His 2005 film Senior Year won the Humanitarian Award for Best Documentary at the Hong Kong International Festival in 2006, and has long been considered a classic and the one of the best films ever made about the Chinese educational system. Several of Zhou’s other works have also won awards at home and abroad, including Using, an unprecedented film following a drug dealer and user in Guangzhou, and The Transition Period, which captures the last few months of a party secretary in a small town. His latest film The Chinese Mayor won a Special Jury Award at Sundance 2015.
Known for his observational style and humanistic approach, Zhou’s latest films have seen him investigating various key institutions and public bodies in China such as the police and government, as part of an on-going exploration of the economic and social changes sweeping the country.
Winner – Best Documentary, 51st Golden Horse Awards Taipei