Even growing in a filthy pond, the white lotus never gets dirty.
April 3, 2019 2:51 PM   Subscribe

In the great inland city of Chongqing in southwest China, as aerial tramways arced overhead and the towers of the wealthy loomed, French filmmaker Hendrick Dusollier documented the Last Days in Shibati (十八梯) slum before it was demolished.

The film (42½min in the linked edition) won a Special Jury Prize at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam in 2017. Still photos of Shibati at Wikipedia: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
posted by XMLicious (5 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Life in China moves at a relentless pace - I lived in Shanghai 20 years ago, and I am sure I would not recognize very much in my old neighborhood.

As a side note - regarding the title of this post, that is why the lotus flower is the Buddhist symbol of enlightenment - beauty and purity that rises above the muck of the pond.
posted by helmutdog at 4:02 PM on April 3, 2019 [3 favorites]

I spent about a week in Chongqing in 2002. If you look at the population chart on the Wiki page, you'll see a jump of 88% in 1997. That's almost certainly because of the 10 million people relocated to there because of the three Gorges Dam. A lot of them were farmers, apparently more than the city could support, so many of them are now migrant workers in other places.

When I was there, there were still a lot of air-raid shelters built into hillsides next to the streets. I only saw one bicycle, ridden by an athlete. The place is really hilly.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:46 PM on April 3, 2019 [2 favorites]

I'd meant to include a direct .mp4 link in the post.

Most of the English-language documentaries I've seen dealing with low-income peoples' homes being demolished in China have been absolutely miserable, with a touch of poignancy. This one manages to capture a good deal of humor alongside that and hence manages to depict the literal and figurative steamroller of progress in a slightly less soul-crushing way.

there were still a lot of air-raid shelters built into hillsides next to the streets

I recognized part of the name Shibati /十八梯 as being numbers and hamfistedly tried to get an idea of what it meant by looking up characters... it's “梯 number eighteen” or “eighteen 梯”, right? What does 梯 translate as? (or did I completely misconstrue which characters correspond to Shibati...)
posted by XMLicious at 5:08 PM on April 3, 2019

I only saw one bicycle, ridden by an athlete. The place is really hilly.

A waitress at a restaurant there my family got talking to when we were there mentioned having moved to Beijing to stay with family for her studies for a few years, being given a bicycle for transportation, and spending weeks just walking out around because she had never learned to ride, and nobody in Beijing would even consider that a young adult woman wouldn't be a competent bicyclist.

Only city in China I've visited where I didn't see a single cyclist.
posted by Dysk at 5:32 PM on April 3, 2019 [1 favorite]

What does 梯 translate as?

Stairs/staircase/ladder/step-stool/steps. “eighteen 梯” is right, so Eighteen Steps I guess (though that's a bit ambiguous in English)

Story goes that there used to be a well there that everyone used to draw water from. It was eighteen stone steps away from where their residential area started, and so the name.
posted by womb of things to be and tomb of things that were at 5:46 PM on April 3, 2019 [4 favorites]

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