Venice International Film Festival, Orizzonti

Huang Wenhai's documentary, "We" ("Wo Men") is an unflinching look at China's political system, where the Communist Party enjoys autocratic powers that place it even above the constitution. One of the people portrayed is 90-year-old Li Rui, a member of the party since 1937 and former secretary to Mao Tse-tung. A determined advocate of democratic transformation, he fell foul of Mao and was jailed for a very long time that included a solitary confinement of eight years.

The film forcefully illustrates the perils of seeking freedom or any kind of change in times as bleak as these. Three generations of Chinese recount the harsh realities of fighting for a democratic setup. Their anger and angst are captured with rare boldness that is not often seen in the country's media.

Wenhai, who studied cinematography at the Film Academy of Peking, is so conscious of his battle for a better China that he overlooks technical aspects while shooting his work. His camera seldom moves, and there is little to punctuate the long, almost ponderous, conversations the people documented indulge in. Varied camera positions, better shot compositions and an imaginative way of tackling the subject could have made the work as engaging as it was powerful.

Production companies: Wenhai Film Studio
Director/writer/cinematographer/editor: Huang Wenhai .
Producers: Huang Wenhai and Helen Cui.
Sales agent: Films Distribution
No rating, 102 minutes.