Along the Railway
CHINA / 2000 / Chinese / Color / Video / 125 min
Director: Du Haibin
Technology: Shu Youying, Shi Ning
Source: Du Haibin
Room 203, Building No. 35, Dong Santiao, Outside You An Men
Fengtai District, Beijing CHINA
Phone: 86-13801110160, 86-10-62005554
Baoji is a hub in the north-south trunk railway of China where vagrants from the south-west (Chengdu) and north-west (Xining) have always gathered. The director, a student at Beijing Film Academy, was visiting this place of his childhood to location-hunt for a fiction film project when he came upon a group of homeless boys by chance. Each tells his story of leaving home, often a farm or an orphanage, to become drifters living in the woods or caves along the railway. They sell garbage and empty bottles for meager food and dream of becoming breakdancers or food stall owners. Wary of the police, teary remembering home, and using slick hair mousse to show off, the boys live their lives on the edge.
[Directors Statement] In today’s China, you will find homeless boys in every large city. In the past, I had approached them, trying to get to know them at every opportunity, only to be repeatedly rejected. So why was I able to draw close to them for this film? In retrospect, I think I had previously tried to pull them into my world, while this time I myself went into their field—this allowed them to meet me off guard. But this does not mean I was able to become true “buddies” with them.
On the night of lunar new year, they sit around a bonfire lit with twigs and plastic garbage, and sing, “We are wanderers, long years on the road...” At that moment, a train rushes past behind them. The light in the windows of the train invites dreams of their homelands. It seems as if the boys have been shaken off the running train, unable to board it again. As for me, I just peeked through my camera and recorded them as they were, in order to honestly present the unresolved feeling that remained with me.
Born in 1972 in Xian in Shanxi Province, China. Went to junior high school and high school in Baoji, the location of this film. Graduated from the Beijing Film Academy in 2000. Filmography includes short film The Lunch (1998) and video documentary Dou-Dou (1999). Has just completed his new documentary Under the High-Rise Building.