Nostalgia A Great Documentary About Shanghai

neighborhood in Jingan ShanghaiEveryday I look out my window and I see this, an old Shanghai quarter.

Last night we went to the movie Nostalgia by Haolun Shu. A documentary about a Shanghai Quarter (Shikumen) destined to be replaced by skyscrapers. The movie had been shown before but I didn’t make it that time. I’m glad I did now. The film was aired/shown in the Museum of Modern Art.

Haolun Shu documents the neighborhood he grew up in, a neighborhood accessible by the Stone Gates (Shikumen) and build in the 30-ties. The “old” way of living in Shanghai that slowly starts to fade.

The movie made me laugh as his grandmother, a witty sweet lady and one of the main characters asks him not to film when she is doing the bookkeeping for her Mahjong club. It’s too embarrassing, she says. It also made made me sad when he asks her what she will do once the constructors come knocking down the buildings and she’ll have to leave. She stares at him, as looking at her past memories and is silent.

Most of all, the movie shows what life is like in traditional Shanghai before buildings had to compete with each other about height and the amount of concrete used and where neighbors know the names of the people living next to them.

The audience, and there were so many that they had to open an extra room and show the movie there as well, consisted mostly of young Chinese (students) and some foreigners. There was laughter when old propaganda shots of children’s choirs that were singing about how happy they were to study passed by, there was silence when the maker of the movie was wondering what all this modernization was good for.

A great movie to see for anyone living in Shanghai but also for people abroad to get a glimpse of life in Shanghai as it used to be and still is in several areas in the centre.

Everyday I look out of my window. In a couple of months I’ll see something different.

You can find here the website of Hao Lun Shu. (it’s mainly in Chinese but has English as well) On the website you can contact the film maker. The dvd costs 20 Kuai and I think you can order it by sending him an email. At least that’s what I hope as I still like to get one myself.

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