The Road 《大路朝天》

Showing at 7pm on 27 October 2016 @ CUHK Yasumoto International Academic Park LT5
This screening is part of a Director Spotlight organised by CNEX Foundation Ltd. For information on other screenings of Zhang Zanbo's work, please visit their registration page

For three decades the world has witnessed China's fast economic development.  In 2009, the Chinese goverment began to implement a $586 billion USD plan attempting to minimize the impact of the global financial crisis on the world's second largest economy.  The plan was to invest in infrastructure and social welfare throughout China.  

Some scholars have called the plan "the Second Great Leap Forward", referring to Chairman Mao's disastrous plan in the 1940s that cost millions of lives.  It was an absurd period in which all citizens were mobilized to refine metal.

Director Zhang Zanbo managed in 2010 to get unique and unprecedented access to the implementation of the financial plan.  For more than three years, the director filmed the making of a section of highway through a quiet village in Hunan, the province where Mao himself was born.  The result is a rare insight into the impact of the financial plan on the local community.  

For three years, Zhang Zanbo followed the construction of the highway from start to finish.  The main character throughout the film is Mr. Meng, the vice president of a private construction company responsible for the construction of a part of the highway system.  He appears whenever there is an argument or a fight.  In China, a great number of people are working for "stabilization," and Mr. Meng is leading such a position in the construction company.

The film follows local villagers and peasants that are forced to move due to land acquisistion. Temples are moved and migrant workers experience lack of safety under very difficult working conditions.  Most of the workers on the construction site are migrant Chinese workers that travel around the country to make a living.

The management of the construction company has been strongly supported by the Communist Party and the lcoal authorities, but they want their share of the financial apple.  As a consequence, corruption and violence has become a common part of the making of the road.

About the Director

Zhang Zanbo is a Chinese independent filmmaker. He graduated from Beijing Film Academy in 2005 with a Master’s Degree, and later established Asymptote Films. His works have been continuously focusing on individual dignities and living conditions in a fast developing China. He is also a freelance non-fiction writer. His non-fiction book has been published in Taiwan and Chinese mainland. 


The Road (2015) 
The Interceptor from My Hometown (2011) 
A Song of Love, Maybe (2010) 
Falling From the Sky (2009) 
Righteous Flame (2011, short) 
Disappear in the green grass, dried grass and duckweed (2011, short) 
What We Talk About When We Talk About Sex (2011, short) 
Red White and Blue (2011, short) 
My grandfather's address in Taipei (2010, short)