Exit to Eden

part autobiographical travelogue, part anthropological memoir. a meditation on sichuan, yunnan, hubei (with a little chengdu, chongqing, shanghai, and three gorges in the mix). freestyle + original score. starring anonymous chinese citizens.
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English Translation of Voice Over:

While in Chongqing during the summer of 2011, Zeng Laoshi took us on a cruise. Sounds fun, right? When we arrived at the Yangtze, it was 105 degrees. The humidity was so oppressive it felt like a vacuum. Good thing for the cockroaches. As we approached the boat, a crowd of 100 people made final pleas for reduced ticket fees. I recognized a cohort of law students wearing University of Montana sweatshirts. A small group had shotgunned on the Three Gorges Damn earlier in the afternoon.

When we arrived on the boat, my group mates told me not to enter the room. Apparently, there was a dead roach on the floor. All throughout the Hubei river delta, I heard the insects buzzing around my ears. My phobia was kicking in. Somehow, I avoid the bugs. Without the warning from my roommates, however, I might have seen my first roach carcass.

When I was sixteen, I travelled to Nicaragua with the New Haven Leon Sister City project. Mi abuela warned me que hay cucarachas en esta casa, pero no veian. While watching ESPN Deportes, I kept seeing lizards crawling on the walls. They reminded me of the dinosaur lamp in my room back home.

That night in Chongqing, we celebrated the 4th of July the American way. Kind of. With Sichuan Panda Bear cigarettes and shots of Bijou, we joked about overdevelopment in the Three Gorges Delta. About five years ago, the Chinese government flooded numerous rivers in Sichuan and Hubei, forcing local populations to move to large cities. Chongqing was the biggest city I had never heard of. It definitely has more people than Shanghai. Even Wikipedia says so (32 > 24 million). It’s a dream come true for China’s shockingly authoritarian capitalism. The irony of Americans drinking cheap Chinese vodka on a run down casino boat was unmistakable.

I felt bad about the jokes, so I went downstairs to play Mahjong.

I went to bed at 12:05 and woke at 6:30 on the 5th to film the gorge at sunrise. The factories belched pale smoke across the magic hour. I could still hear the cockroaches buzzing from the night before. Fortunately, I pressed record on my camera.

When I reviewed by footage for a final edit, I could not ignore the cockroach, trapped inside the Hubei landscape, fixed in a wide shot on my timeline.

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filmed 6.16.11-7.12.11 (china)
edited 7.15.11-2.15.12 (nofo)

xie xie,
josiah (bu zhou xia)

j vimeo.com/38130083

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