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Sunday, October 3, 2021

Ascension - 2021 LAAPFF Domumentary Review



The Documentary: Ascension

The Director: Jessica Kingdon

The Story: This observational documentary presents a contemporary vision of China that prioritizes productivity and innovation above all.


The Review:
Jessica Kingdon directed, produced, edited, and is also listed as the cinematographer in the IMDB credits for this documentary which to me makes this even more of an impressive achievement. I was very impressed with the how she put together this film using what seems like an endless amount of footage from all walks of life within every aspect of China's money and success driven society.

She lets the images and the people speak for themselves without doing interviews or any kind of talking head format, the whole thing is a fly on the wall look at daily life from the lowest forms of day labor to corporate executives and wealthy business people living about as luxurious of a life as they can imagine. What makes the whole thing so compelling is how the journey that Kingdon takes viewers on literally starts at the bottom and weaves its way up so you can see almost literally see how those who suffer from oppression feed the ones who wield all the power and control.

The existence of this type of documentary is important for people here in the US to have a better understanding of the culture and societal norms that permeate and perpetuate China's drive towards the type of success that rewards the collective but leaves individuals laid bare on a wasteland of commerce and industry. There are so many fundamental differences between the two countries although what remains the same is a fabricated sense of patriotism that acts as a cover story for the continued consolidation of wealth and the media induced brain washing of the population.

Ascension was inspired by a poem written over a hundred years ago by Jessica Kingdon's great grandfather and the finished product definitely feels like a finely curated passion project. The film was shot in 51 different locations across the country and I don't even want to know the amount of footage the director/editor went through to get what eventually made it into the movie. Just putting all of it together, not just as a cohesive narrative, but as a compelling story and a mesmerizing work of art is in my opinion one of the finest cinematic achievements of the year. I'm looking forward to seeing this documentary make an inevitable run through awards season.


To keep track of all my reviews and festival coverage please go to: TwoOhSix at 2021 LAAPFF.


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