Coal Money (2009, Wang Bing)

Quick-n-dirty handicam following coal traders in Inner Mongolia – mostly it’s people bitching and haggling for 50 minutes. I suppose it’s a useful film as a cinema verite document of a trade, but is this what most of Wang Bing’s cinema is like? Is West of the Tracks (about decline of an industrial district) like this for nine hours, and Crude Oil for fourteen?


As Harvard puts it: “The hard, even bitter, bargaining and accusations of thievery that erupt at each juncture suggest the free market system to be based on an ever-sliding scale of distrust and insecurity.”


Wang is one of Cinema Scope’s 50 Under 50. C. Fujiwara writes: “If Wang’s cinema is dedicated to uncovering the past of labour, it is also a search, in the middle of an era when labour is being disavowed, disgraced, and denied, for the possible futures of labour.”

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