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Director records the last Chongqing stickmen

Director records the last Chongqing stickmen

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Director records the last Chongqing stickmen

An indie documentary film on stickmen known as “Bang Bang” will hit Chinese screens this weekend, its director wishing to reflect the times and social progress, as well as saying farewell to a dying profession.

“Bang Bang” refers to a unique group of strolling grassroot porters who worked and lived in Chongqing, operating over three decades in the big southwest Chinese municipality built on natural mountainous terrain by using a big stick to carry heavy goods and luggage for customers and tourists. At its peak, there were more than 100,000 men working in this profession. 

“The Last Generation of Bang Bang,” formerly known as “The Last Stickmen of Chongqing,” focuses on several such laborers now in their 60s, and records how they work, live and deal with their hardships.

Director He Ku, a retired soldier who wanted to get a new job, joined the “Bang Bang army” in 2014. At that time, he only had 1,300 yuan (US$189) in his pocket. While he worked and lived with his fellow stickmen for one year, he decided to use a camera to record their life, to discover the cruel realities and find inspirations from the ordinary hard-working men in a seemingly prosperous urban area, which touched many hearts.

“I’m a very good stickman,” the director said laughingly at the premiere of the film held last week. “Then I found no one was going to join the profession again. It’s disappearing. I just want to record something for history.”

“The Last Generation of Bang Bang” was first made into a documentary series of 13 episodes, winning rave reviews. On the film review aggregation website, it gained a very high rating of 9.7/10. The director then used all the material to cut a film version, adding some untold and follow-up stories that he didn’t finish in his documentary series, which includes some happy endings for the elderly stickmen.

“After they went through those hardships and difficulties, they can still embrace happiness,” He Ku said, adding, “The smile in hardship is more powerful than smile in happiness.”

As China sees rapid economic development and social advancement, the “Bang Bang” men are disappearing. More and more of them have found other jobs such as express delivery, while people can use cars and other more efficient vehicles to transport their goods and luggage, nowadays.

“Everyone’s life is getting better as China becomes better. Every shot in this film reflects the changes in China, deep in the bones, ” the director added.

“The Last Generation of Bang Bang” will be released nationwide on Aug. 17.

Source: by zhang rui
Source: CEN
Director records the last Chongqing stickmen