2019 Sundance Docs in Focus: ONE CHILD NATION

Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Nanfu Wang

ONE CHILD NATION
Nanfu Wang and Jialing Zhang bravely expose the unseen consequences of China’s one-child policy.

Festival Section:
US Documentary Competition

Sundance Program Description:

In order to expose rampant human-rights abuses, filmmaker Nanfu Wang fearlessly confronted Chinese government agents in her 2016 Sundance Film Festival documentary, HOOLIGAN SPARROW. Her goal in ONE CHILD NATION is no less daunting: unmask the tightly held secrets of China’s one-child policy and, in so doing, free the voices of millions irreparably harmed by the practice.

For Wang, now a first-time mother, investigating the policy of forcibly restricting family size spawns traumatic recollections from her own family’s recent past. These stories, in turn, unleash a dizzying number of revelations from journalists, officials, parents, and activists about the widespread enforcement of sterilization, child abandonment, and state-sponsored kidnappings.

With chilling clarity, Wang’s new documentary reveals how relentless propaganda brainwashed and terrorized countless Chinese citizens into committing unspeakable crimes against fellow villagers and family members. Through interviews with both victims and instigators, along with revelatory data regarding the sheer number of abandoned children (nearly all of them infant girls), ONE CHILD NATION breaks open decades of silence on a vast, unprecedented social experiment that shaped – and destroyed – countless lives.

Some Background:
Directors/Producers/Editors:

  • Nanfu Wang
    Past Sundance docs:

    HOOLIGAN SPARROW

    Wang has received support from the Sundance Institute’s Documentary Film Program for this project, her third feature. Her debut, HOOLIGAN SPARROW, was nominated for an Emmy and was shortlisted for an Oscar, while her second feature, I AM ANOTHER YOU, won two awards at its premiere at SXSW.

  • Jialing Zhang

    Zhang’s sophomore doc feature is her first project at Sundance. Her previous feature, COMPLICIT, also tackled human rights issues within China.

Producers:

  • Motto Pictures’ Julie Goldman, Christopher Clements, and Carolyn Hepburn
    Combined recent past Sundance docs:

    INVENTING TOMORROW (2018)
    THE CLEANERS (2018)
    WEINER (2016)
    LIFE, ANIMATED (2016)

    The prolific doc producers behind Brooklyn’s Motto Pictures are two-time Oscar nominees and Emmy Award winners.

  • Christoph Jörg
    Past Sundance docs:

    WINNIE (2017)
    THE LOVERS & THE DESPOT (2016)
    BOBBY FISCHER AGAINST THE WORLD (2011)
    BE LIKE OTHERS (2008)
    STRANDED: I’VE COME FROM A PLANE THAT CRASHED ON THE MOUNTAINS (2008)
    DINNER WITH THE PRESIDENT: A NATION’S JOURNEY (2007)
    CUTTING LOOSE (1996, short)

    Jörg was formerly commissioning editor for Germany’s ZDF and France’s ARTE before founding his company, Pumpernickel Films in 2009.

Executive Producers:

  • Ken Pelletier
    Past Sundance docs:

    306 HOLLYWOOD (2018)
    ICARUS (2017)

    Pelletier is an entrepreneur and board member of Chicago Media Project. He was the founding CTO of Groupon. Pelletier is also an executive producer of fellow 2019 Sundance title THE INFILTRATORS, a hybrid feature in the NEXT section.

  • ITVS’s Sally Jo Fifer and Lois Vossen
    Combined recent past Sundance docs:

    MINDING THE GAP (2018)
    THE FORCE (2017)
    MOTHERLAND (2017)
    QUEST (2017)

    The President/CEO and Executive Producer of ITVS have regularly provided funding and broadcast support for numerous past Sundance films. They also executive produced fellow 2019 US Documentary Competition titles ALWAYS IN SEASON and BEDLAM. Fifer is also an executive producer of 2019 Documentary Premieres title WORDS FROM A BEAR.

Additional Editor:

  • Michael Shade
    Past Sundance docs:

    HOOLIGAN SPARROW

Why You Should Watch:
Tackling the controversial subject of China’s population control from an insider – and very personal – perspective, Wang and Zhang carefully initiate reflection from family members and others. As a result, they uncover unexpected, often difficult, truths that have been waiting more than three decades to come to light – and which have an impact that is felt far beyond China.

More Info:
For Sundance screening dates and times, click the film title in the first paragraph.

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Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Recommendations, Sundance

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