petition courtesy cinema guild

Petition by Zhao Liang (2009), 124 min, HD, China

“A tradition that dates back to imperial times, the Chinese court system allows citizens with grievances against local officials to petition a higher authority. Thus thousands of men and women each year come to the Complaints Office of the Supreme People’s Court in Beijing for their case to be heard. The vast majority of these ‘petitioners’ are impoverished villagers who endure endless waits while living in makeshift tents inside shantytowns. Often, thugs are hired to pressure the petitioners to return home.

Following the saga of a group of petitioners for over a decade (including one woman and her daughter who have waited 10 years for a hearing), Petition unfolds like a novel by Dickens or Kafka (the similarities to “The Castle” are frightening). Unwilling to accept defeat and seemingly unable to do anything but wait, the petitioners enter a strange and often terrifying zone, gradually losing touch with family and friends back home and with the cruel reality of their situation.” – Cinema Guild