Hannes Boeck - New Hefei


New Hefei is set in Hefei, the political and economic centre of the eastern Chinese province of Anhui. This densely populated university and industrial city, which was an important crossroads even in antiquity, has undergone rapid change over the past few years,transforming from one of the country’s poorest regions into a special economic zone. This climate of social and urban growth and change is what Böck chose for his film. Calm black-and-white images show a boy crossing the city, to its edge and on into the new suburbs. This excursion is reminiscent of the flaneur motif: an allegory for the subject, modern but no longer bourgeois, which, cut off from its own tradition, personifies alienation from the world. On the other hand the subject’s relationship with the city entails more than just isolation. Underlined by the movement of the camera, which follows the boy, loses sight of him, then shows him again a moment later, the filmic exploration of a modern urban setting also becomes a subjective, sensuous and in this way robust look at an altered environment. Similarly to BRD (2003) and DDR (2005), two filmic stock takings of the Modern age in postwar Germany, New Hefei too is a concentrated look at architectures.

In this case however Böck employs a film grammar which quotes the visual style of Neo realism, especially that of Antonioni, even in individual shots. The boy’s apparently directionless movement follows a precisely planned sequence of “pre framed” shots, which creates a historical parallel between present-day China and Germany’s economic miracle of the 1960s. Fades to black, which in Antonioni’s case mark the spots where action begins, structure the film formally and also pose a question concerning a narrative that can be found behind the images, apart from pure representation. (Rike Frank) Translation: Steve Wilder