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People’s Park

People’s Park

J.P. Sniadecki in person!

A mesmerizing, one-of-a-kind window into modern China, People’s Park is a single-shot documentary that immerses viewers in an unbroken journey through a famous urban park in Chengdu, Sichuan Province.  Filmforum is delighted to host the Los Angeles premiere of this provocative and absorbing film, and to host one of its directors, J.P. Sniadecki.

Screening organized in collaboration with REDCAT. 

There will be different screenings with Sniadecki in person.  One Monday, Feb 10th at REDCAT, he will present Yumen (2013) and Zhu Rikun’s Cha Fang (The Questioning)(2013), see for more information.  He will also be screening Demolition (Chaiqian, 2008) and Songhua (2007) at Clockshop on Saturday Feb 8 at 7:30 pm. See for information.

JP Sniadecki was born on a goat farm in Michigan, grew up in the industrial rustbelt of Northern Indiana, and has lived and worked for several years in China.  A filmmaker and Assistant Professor of Performing and Media Arts at Cornell University, he produces work at the intersection of cinema and ethnography.  His films screen at festivals such as the Berlinale, the New York Film Festival, and Edinburgh International Film Festival, and have received several awards, including the Joris Ivens Award at Cinema du Reel for Chaiqian/Demolition (2008), a Jury Award at FICUNAM and Split Film Festival for Yumen (2013), as well as a Golden Leopard and a Special Jury Prize at the Locarno for Foreign Parts (2010), co-directed with Verena Paravel.  His most recent documentary, People’s Park (2012) co-directed with Libbie D Cohn, won the Best Anthropological Film award at Festival dei Popoli and Best Cinematography award at the Ann Arbor Film Festival, and had its New York City premiere at New Directors/New Films.  He is also founder of Emergent Visions, a film series that screens new independent cinema from China.

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People's Park

People’s Park

(2012, USA/China, digital, color, sound, 78 min.)

Gian Paolo Paoli award for Best Anthropological Film at the 53 Festival dei Popoli 2012

Best Cinematography Award at the 51st Ann Arbor Film Festival 2013

“A walk through the park like no other, this brilliantly joyous conceptual documentary takes the vivid reality of an urban park: People’s Park in Chengdu, Sichuan, and, with a pure kind of cinema magic, makes it more real than real. Directors Libbie Cohn and J.P. Sniadecki use an utterly unique and perfectly apposite method of filming: they shoot their tour of the park in one continuous 75-minute long tracking shot. No cuts, no edits: the film starts, it rolls, it stops. Sounds simple, but in the completely uncontrolled context of a crowded Chinese public space, their work required meticulous preparation and rigorous execution to achieve what looks like a spontaneous result. Their camera, as it pans side to side and glides relentlessly forward, catches hundreds of Chinese urbanites out for fun, relaxation, socializing and freedom: eating, strolling, singing, practicing calligraphy, dancing (to various, surprising beats) and watching each other. And being watched (by us) in a way that, though it may start out with what feels like unadorned observation, slowly gathers a kind of ecstatic, trance-like groove, building to a rapturous climax, as people, movement, music, image and sound dance together: this is as close to pure pleasure as cinema can provide.

“The soundscape is rich, complex and carefully manufactured, as is the preternaturally smooth movement of the camera, again the result of painstaking preparation and post-production. The result is something extraordinary: a documentary re-creation of reality, or rather a production of something super-real, that activates our sympathetic gaze and ecstatic participation.” -- Shelly Kracier, Vancouver International Film Festival

“For sheer aesthetic brio, little in the ND/NF program can rival People's Park, in which directors Libbie D. Cohn and J.P. Sniadecki bring the Russian Ark approach—a single, continuous, 78-minute steadicam shot—to a public park in Chengdu, China. The shoot took place on a July afternoon in 2011, as children and parents, students and seniors strolled, exercised, sipped tea, danced—oh, how they dance. Some engage with Cohn and Sniadecki's camera as it winds its sinuous way through plazas, footpaths, and overlapping spheres of activity. Others blithely ignore it; still others seem not to even notice. At every turn People's Park captures something ineffable—everyday life transformed into cinema.” – Scott Foundas, Village Voice, March 20, 2013,

Libbie D. Cohn has lived and traveled in China since her infancy. She graduated from Yale University in 2012 with a degree in Political Science and is currently studying regenerative design and systems thinking at The Ecosa Institute in Prescott, Arizona.