2010 | Digital | 5:56:00
Exactly 13 years ago, Karamay’s Friendship Hall was the site of a horrible tragedy: nearly 800 grade and middle-school students and their teachers, hand-picked to entertain a delegation of education officials, were in the midst of a performance when a fire broke out in the hall. The students were instructed to remain in their seats so that the visiting executives could exit first. By the time the fire had been contained, 323 people had perished, 288 of them children between the ages of six and 14. All of the officials survived. After the tragedy, the story was heavily censored in the Chinese state media. In Karamay, filmmaker Xu Xin helps a community break the silence nearly two decades after their tragedy. The film is structured around a series of first-person accounts from families, teachers and survivors, interspersed with rare archival footage.