17 March 2010 | JustCuriosity
A Powerful Uncensored Portrait of the Struggles of Ordinary Chinese Taxi Drivers
Beijing Taxi, which had its World Premiere at SXSW in Austin, TX, provides the viewer with something that is all too rare – an uncensored look at the transformations occurring on the ground in China today. The Chinese-American director Miao Wang provides a sensitive humanistic portrait through the eyes of 3 ordinary Chinese taxi drivers from different generations and backgrounds. She lets them tell the story of modern urban China in the lead up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The filming is quite beautiful as it shows the new structures that are rising up to replace the older traditional Beijing that is being bulldozed by government fiat.
The Olympics was an opportunity for this authoritarian regime to sell its propagandistic version of an ultramodern China to the world. But most Chinese have not yet experienced the fantasy painted for the world by their government. In Beijing Taxi, one sees the struggles of ordinary people dealing with issues of economic hardships, lack of education, and access to health care in a fast-changing society. In many ways the economic struggles of the average working class person in China are very much like that of the average working class person in the United States. This is the type of film that can help Americans relate to a changing China on a human level a lot better than all of the Olympic propaganda sold to Western audiences by the Chinese government. The film deserves a wider audience.