2016 Director’s Choice

Green Film Fest CEO & Founder, Rachel Caplan, explains why Behemoth is this year’s ‘Director’s Choice’:

It’s one of the pleasures of this job that I’m able to throw a spotlight on a hidden gem at each festival: this year, it’s Behemoth, an independent film from China about the impacts of coal mining on people and place.


"Political documentarian Zhao Liang draws inspiration from The Divine Comedy for this simultaneously intoxicating and terrifying glimpse at the ravages wrought upon Inner Mongolia by its coal and iron industries. A poetic voiceover speaks of the insatiability of desire on top of stunning images of landscapes (and their decimation), machines (and their spectacular functions), and people (and the toll of their labor). Interspersed are sublime tableaux of a prone nude body—asleep? just born? dead?—posed against a refracted horizon. A wholly absorbing guided tour of exploding hillsides, dank mine shafts, cacophonous factories, and vacant cities, Behemoth builds upon Zhao’s previous exposés (2009’s Petition, 2007’s Crime and Punishment) by combining his muckraking streak with a painterly vision of a social and ecological nightmare otherwise unfolding out of sight, out of mind. Winner of the environmental Green Drop Award at the Venice Film Festival." - MOMA

It’s remarkable to see an independent film like this coming out of China. It’s creative and poetic, and what struck me most is that it’s almost completely wordless, using vision and sound to paint a powerful picture of the mine and the people that work within. For me, the film is a stunning discovery and a very welcome addition to our 2016 program.

See Behemoth at the Roxie Theater on Tue, Apr 19 at 9pm.

Find out more about this year’s Green Film Fest.