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Dead Souls - Part I

Dead Souls - Part I

In Gansu Province, northwest China, lie the remains of countless prisoners abandoned in the Gobi Desert sixty years ago. Designated as “ultra-rightists” in the Communist Party’s Anti-Rightist campaign of 1957, they starved to death in the Jiabiangou and Mingshui reeducation camps. The film invites us to meet the survivors of the camps to find out firsthand who these persons were, the hardships they were forced to endure and what became their destiny.

DEAD SOULS premiered as a Special Screening at this year’s Cannes Film Festival to rapturous reviews. Variety’s Owen Gleiberman compared it to Shoah as “a powerfully sobering and clear-eyed investigation that justifies its length through the gravity and presence of its testimony.” Writing in the Hollywood Reporter, Clarence Tsui remarked that a "thoroughly focused and tightly structured" quality makes it the director’s "most explosive outing." Sight & Sound called it "a monumental achievement."

DEAD SOULS is an Icarus Films and Grasshopper Film Release.

Part one of three parts.

"Weighty and mindfully austere, Dead Souls shines a bright and steady spotlight into a dark corner of 20th century Chinese history." —Film Comment

"Masterful, heart-wrenching, harrowing; this essential documentary is necessarily, unflinchingly grim; the cinematic equivalent of walking in the survivors’ shoes, and a complex, challenging but crucial viewing experience that burrows its immense sorrows deep into the audience’s bones. A Shoahof our time." —Screen Daily

"Explosive; Charting the origins, operations and outcomes of a far-flung Chinese labor camp in the late 1950s/early 1960s, the documentary offers affecting and harrowing accounts from those who survived the gulag. Thoroughly focused and tightly structured, it is an immensely perceptive piece about the history of China and its multitude of discontents." —The Hollywood Reporter

“A powerfully sobering and clear-eyed investigation that justifies its length through the gravity and presence of its testimony.” —Variety

“The fragments Wang has preserved shock the conscience; atomistic voices coalesce into a chorus of horrifying truths about revolutionary China.” Education About Asia


Main credits

Wang, Bing (film director)
Wang, Bing (film producer)
Wang, Bing (cinematographer)
Lalou, Serge (film producer)

Other credits

Director of photography, Wang Bing; editor, Catherine Rascon.

Docuseek2 subjects

Distributor subjects

Wang Bing
Human Rights


; "Dead Souls"; Docuseek2; China; Wang Bing; Asia; "Dead Souls"; dGenerate Films; reeducation; Anti-Rightist Campaign; ultra-rightist; Human Rights; Politics; Sociology;

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