Open City Documentary Festival

April 2024
across London
Event has passed

Self Portrait: Sphinx in 47 KM + Q&A

[1] Director Zhang Mengqi, [3] Country China, [4] Duration 94,

The eighth film in Zhang Mengqi’s extraordinary survey of life in 47km, a rural village in Hubei Province, China named after its distance from the nearest city, Suizhou, Self-Portrait: Sphinx In 47Km explores the terrible legacy of the ‘Great Leap Forward’ through the contrasting perspectives of two generations of women. An elderly woman tells the harrowing story of her son’s death; whilst a teenager paints murals imagining a brighter future. This split structure connects the memories of a disappearing generation to the hopes of a new one, finding space for political and personal reflection in a country experiencing great change.

Screens with:
My Room | Fang Hong | 2018 | China | 9’

+ Q&A with director Zhang Mengqi, hosted by Hiu Man Chan, a researcher, translator and columnist who is involved with the Centre for Chinese Visual Arts at Birmingham City School of Art.

In partnership with Chinese Visual Festival. UK Premiere.


Zhang Mengqi was born in 1987. She graduated from the Dance Academy of Minzu University of China in 2008. Since 2009, she has been a resident filmmaker and choreographer at Caochangdi Workstation in Beijing. A founding member of the Folk Memory Project, Mengqi has made eight feature-length documentaries filmed in her father’s village in Hebei Province, known as her “self-portrait series.” Her films have been selected by Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival, Cinéma du Réel, Visions du Réel and others.”