24 City

24 City (Chinese: 二十四城记) is a 2008 film directed and cowritten by Chinese film-maker Jia Zhangke. The film follows three generations of characters in Chengdu (in the 1950s, the 1970s and the present) as a state-owned factory gives way to a modern apartment complex. The film was also known as The Story of 24 City during production.[2]

24 City
Cannes Film Festival poster
Mandarinèrshísì chéng jì
Literallystory of twenty-four city
Directed byJia Zhangke
Produced byJia Zhangke
Shozo Ichiyama
Wang Hong
Written byJia Zhangke
Zhai Yongming
StarringJoan Chen
Lü Liping
Zhao Tao
Chen Jianbin
Music byYoshihiro Hanno
Lim Giong
CinematographyYu Lik-wai
Wang Yu
Edited byLin Xudong
Kong Jinglei
Distributed byMK2 Diffusion
Cinema Guild (USA)
Release date
  • May 17, 2008 (2008-05-17) (Cannes)
  • March 6, 2009 (2009-03-06) (China)
Running time
107 minutes
Box office$396,044[1]

The apartment complex featured in the film is an actual development (also called "24 City") built on the former site of an airplane engine manufacturing facility.[3] Jia will also produce a documentary about the location.[4]

The film's narrative style is described by critics as a blend of fictive and documentary story-telling, and it consists of authentic interviews and fictive scenes delivered by actors (but presented in a documentary format).[5]

24 City made its debut shown in competition for the Palme d'Or at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival.[6] Film Comment, the official journal of the Film Society of Lincoln Center, listed the film at the end of 2008 as the second-best unreleased (without U.S. theatrical release) film of the year.[7]

The Hollywood Reporter called the film a "moving elegy to modern-day China" and said of the film's documentary strain that it "prevails to simple, yet emotionally reverberating effect".[8][9]

Time also reviewed the film favorably: "the film interweaves the political overview — of a city institution being torn down to be replaced by commercial and residential buildings — with personal anecdotes that are poignant and charming."[10]

Screen International states "the latest chapter in Jia Zhangke's chronicles of modern Chinese history is certain to reinforce the director's status as an international arthouse icon."[5]

The New York Times film critic Manohla Dargis gave the film a rave and stated "...the often amazing and intricately structured '24 City,' the latest from the Chinese director Jia Zhang-ke...shot in digital so sharp it looks hyper-real and projected digitally, the movie takes as its point of departure the closing of a state-owned munitions factory in southwest China... Mr. Jia is one of the most original filmmakers working today, creating movies about a country that seems like a sequel."[11]

Anthony Kaufman of IndieWIRE praised the film and states "Jia's masterful aesthetic remains consistent, mixing documentary and fiction with intriguing results."[12]

J. Hoberman of the Village Voice described the film as "so meaningfully framed that it could have been shot by Andy Warhol or Chantal Akerman",[13] and called the film as one of the stand-outs of this year's films in competition at the Cannes Film Festival.[13]

Currently, the film holds a 91% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 43 reviews, with an average score of 7.4/10. The consensus reads, "One of China's most talented directors blurs the lines between non-fiction, drama, and musical theater in this vivid portrait of a country in cultural flux." [14] On Metacritic, the film has an average score of 75 out of 100, based on 11 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews". [15]


  1. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?page=main&id=24city.htm BOM
  2. China Film Journal Staff (2008-03-26). "The World Is Not Enough: Has Jia Zhangke Permanently Left the Art House?". China Film Journal. Archived from the original on 2008-06-28. Retrieved 2008-04-26.
  3. Jia, Zhangke; Phil Tinari (translator). "Moving Pictures". GOOD Magazine. Archived from the original on 30 April 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-01.
  4. Lee, Min (2007-04-04). "Films focus on factory upheaval". Associated Press. Archived from the original on 2013-12-11. Retrieved 2008-05-01.
  5. Dan Fainaru (2008-05-17). "24 City (Er Shi Si Cheng Ji)". Screen International. Retrieved 2008-07-13.
  6. Leffler, Rebecca (2004-04-23). "Cannes unveils Competition lineup". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on April 26, 2008. Retrieved 2004-04-26.
  7. "FILM COMMENT'S END-OF-YEAR CRITICS' POLL". Film Comment. Archived from the original on 2009-01-22.
  8. ""24 City" a moving elegy to modern-day China". Reuters/The Hollywood Reporter. 2008-05-18. Retrieved 2008-07-13.
  9. "Film Review: '24 City'". The Hollywood Reporter. 2008-05-21. Archived from the original on 2008-06-02. Retrieved 2008-07-13.
  10. Corliss, Richard (2008-05-17). "Cannes Gets Real". Time. Retrieved 2008-07-13.
  11. Scott, A. O.; Dargis, Manohla (2008-05-19). "Reality Rudely Intrudes in the Screening Rooms". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-07-13.
  12. Anthony Kaufman (2008-05-18). "Desplechin's "Tale" Stands Out In Competition, "Three Monkeys," "24 City," Also Impress". Yahoo! Movies. Retrieved 2008-07-13.
  13. Jim Hoberman. "The Cannes Film Festival Thus Far". The Village Voice. Retrieved 2008-07-13.
  14. "24 City (2008)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 23 October 2019.
  15. "24 City Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 23 October 2019.
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