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Publication TypeFilm
Year Released2009
DirectorLiang, Zhao
ProducerBlum, Sylvie
Running Time124 minutes
Date Released2009
StudioCinema Guild
CountryUnited States of America
MediumFilm; Documentary

A harrowing investigation into China's legal system, this documentary takes us inside the world of "petitioners", people who come to Beijing from all over the country to seek justice against corrupt government officials and courts back home, only to find themselves waiting months and years (in some cases more than 10 years) for a hearing.

A tradition that dates back to imperial times, the Chinese court system allows citizens with grievances against local officials to petition a higher authority. This thousands of men and women each year come to the Complaints Office of the Supreme People's Court in Beijing for their case to be heard. The vast majority of these "petitioners" are impoverished villagers who endure endless waits while living in makeshift tents inside shantytowns. Often, thugs are hired to pressure the petitioners to return home.

Following the saga of a group of petitioners for over a decade (including one woman and her daughter who have waited 10 years for a hearing), Petition unfolds like a novel by Dickens or Kafka (the similarities to "The Castle" are frightening). Unwilling to accept defeat and seemingly unable to do anything but wait, the petitioners enter a strange and often terrifying zone, gradually losing touch with family and friends back home and with the cruel reality of their situation.

Filmed right up to the start of the 2008 Olympic Games, this powerful documentary illustrates the persistent cracks in the system of a country experiencing unheralded economic expansion. (Back Cover)



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