For more than 35 years, China enforced a radical experiment in population control, restricting couples to a single child and imposing harsh penalties on those who violated the policy.
In the 2019 Sundance U.S. Grand Jury Prize-winning documentary One Child Nation, Chinese born filmmakers Nanfu Wang (Hooligan Sparrow) and Jialing Zhang dig fearlessly into the past with startling testimony from victims and perpetrators, including members of Wang’s own family, as well as archival footage, vintage propaganda materials and intimate first-hand accounts of the policy’s horrific consequences. A stunning, nuanced indictment of a program that prioritized a national agenda over human life, the film is a unique combination of personal and investigative filmmaking.
Using essayistic, participatory and observational documentary styles, Nanfu and Jialing have created an unparalleled chronicle of Chinese history to preserve the collective memories of those who lived through the policy and those who still suffer from its effects.
We had the opportunity of speaking to Nanfu Wang on Skype for a video interview about One Child Nation:
NANFU WANG (Director, Producer, Cinematographer, Editor) is an Emmy Award, nominated and Peabody-winning filmmaker based in New York City. Wang’s feature debut, Hooligan Sparrow, was shortlisted for the 2017 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature and received two Emmy nominations. Since its premiere at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, the doc has won more than 20 awards internationally, including a Peabody Award, a Cinema Eye Honor Award, the George Polk Award, an IDA Documentary Award and an Independent Spirit Award.
Wang’s second feature documentary, I Am Another You, premiered at the SXSW Film Festival in 2017, won two special jury awards and opened theatrically in September of that year.
JIALING ZHANG (Director, Producer) is an independent filmmaker based in Beijing and Massachusetts. She is the co-director and editor of Complicit, a feature documentary that follows the journey of a benzene-poisoned Chinese migrant worker who takes on the global electronic manufacturing industry. The film premiered at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival in London in 2017. Zhang also freelances as a local producer for various programs and media including “Vice” on HBO, Fusion TV and The New York Times.