Still Life

Still Life is a 2006 Chinese film directed by Jia Zhangke. Shot in the old village of Fengjie, a small town on the Yangtze River slowly being destroyed by the building of the Three Gorges Dam, Still Life tells the story of two people in search of their spouses. Still Life is a co-production of the Shanghai Film Studio and Xstream Pictures.


Still Life is set in Fengjie, a city upstream of the massive Three Gorges Dam. Now marked for flooding, the city undergoes a process of self-deconstruction. Into this dying town comes Han Sanming, a coal miner from Shanxi province who has returned in search of a wife who ran away 16 years ago. Upon arriving, he asks a local motorcyclist to drive him to his former address on Granite Street. The driver takes him to the riverbank, revealing that his entire neighborhood has been flooded since the building of the dam. After a failed attempt to obtain his wife's information from the local municipal office, Sanming checks into a local hotel. His next stop is a rickety boat owned by his wife's brother. The brother informs Sanming that his wife and daughter (the real reason for his return) work downriver in Yichang but that if he remains in the city, they will eventually return there.