Dreamweavers: Beijing 2008 Directed by: Jun Gu Cast: Nai Ruoyu, Deng Linlin, Liu Xiang Running Time: 1 hr 30 mins Rating: Unrated
32nd Portland International Film Festival Country: China English?: Mostly Mandarin, some English, also subtitled.
Plot: Dreamweavers follows groups of people preparing for the Summer Olympics in Beijing. We're following the construction of the Bird's Nest, a group of gymnasts, a family who's living where the Olympic village is going to go, former Olympic medalist Liu Xiang, and a SWAT team preparing for the event. The film begins right after the International Olympic committee announces Beijing will get the 2008 Summer Olympics and continues until right before the event.
Who’s It For? Anyone fascinated by the production of the 2008 Beijing Olympic ceremonies.
Last summer's Beijing Olympics was an amazing spectacle so a film about the creation of those ceremonies should be fascinating, right? Early on I was nervous when a few scenes with English speakers was out of sync. A professional documentary should not have that problem. Also this film was authorized by the Chinese government, which means at times I had trouble trusting it. I just don't think government and good film mix.
That said, the gymnast stuff amazes. The film follows three little girls, Nai Ruoyu, Deng Linlin and Jiang Yuyuan as they live and work at a gymnastics academy in Beijing. The girls are training for the 2008 ceremonies, something they're aware of years before the event. Every day they spend hours working on routines with a coach that's hard to please. In voice over, Deng Linlin is described as always having a red nose and eyes from crying. WTF???? She's a young girl who doesn't live with her parents, no wonder. I was amazed at how these girls are worked and the sacrifices their families make for the potential honor of having an Olympian in the house.
After the gymnasts, nothing else quite stacks up. The Bird's Next construction was pretty cool, but I had a hard time understanding it since I'm not an engineer. The SWAT team looked like babies after the gymnasts. They complained and yet weren't worked half as hard as these little girls. The family of Gao Gulian, her son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren are moved from their "village" to an apartment in the city to make way for the construction of the Olympic village. They refer to it as the country, though downtown Beijing is clearly visible from where they live so that might have gotten lost in translation. Their story would be more interesting, if I didn't feel it was one of those elements put in to make China look good.
Overall, the film doesn't really come together and make a whole out of it's individual parts. Jun Gu does not seem to be a terribly skillful filmmaker which is too bad cause there's definitely a good story in here.
Final Score: 5/10