This is less of a post and more of a PSA: Zhao Liang’s excellent documentary Petition (上访) is available on Youtube. I should note that this is probably an illegal upload of the film, but it is so difficult to find a legitimate copy of the film ((I did find this DVD box set with three of Zhao’s films, all of which are worth seeing, but it’s a PAL-only French import so it won’t work in many American DVD players)) that I thought I would call your attention to it anyway. But I highly encourage you to also buy a copy of it if you ever get a chance.
I had the pleasure of meeting someone involved with this film last year in Beijing and speaking with him for a little while about the experience of making it. The film is the result of work that spanned over a decade, and it was extremely difficult to put together, especially the scenes that included footage from within the petition offices, where cameras are most definitely not allowed. It is a work that was immensely difficult to produce, and the results are incredible if also highly depressing.
It’s not available on Youtube in good quality — again, buy the DVD if you can find it! — but it does have Chinese and English subtitles and the quality is plenty good enough to watch. If you have the time, it’s highly recommended.
(I should also note that I came across this thanks to a link on Twitter the other day, but now I can’t remember who it was that posted it! My apologies, but if that person sees this and lets me know, I’d be happy to update this post with a link.)