Chinese filmmaker Zhao
Liang was initiated into the rituals of the Cannes Festival today as he presented his first feature-length film, a documentary entitled Petition:
The Court of the Complainants in a Special Screening. Eligible for a Caméra d'Or as a debut feature, the film introduces us to "petitioners" who come to Beijing from all over China to file complaints against the brutality and corruption of local officials. Zhao Liang has been filming the petitioners since 1996, as they camp out near the central government complaints office next to Beijing South Railway Station.
They will stay for months, and even years, hoping to obtain justice. The filmmaker focuses more specifically on a mother and daughter, whose story he follows over a decade.
The director admits he matured as he was making the film. "I learned a lot about society and about people in this filming. In fact I have little hope that documentaries would help change society, but I feel that every generation should take the responsibility of his generation. I feel that I should help later generations understand our times by way of my work, that this kind of filming and recording in the people’s milieu could have a certain positive effect on history. Especially that a lot of facts that happened in our film were distorted (by the government-controlled media)."