Back to IndieWire

The Beijing Ants

Move over Tokyo, London and New York! Beijing, where rents have reached over $11,000 CAD per square metre, is soon to be the most expensive city in the world. With prices out of reach, house-hunter and filmmaker Ryuji Otsuka decides to target the suburb of Tongzhou instead. The Beijing Ants provides a snapshot of a couple’s maddening experience with a society in transition, revealing as much about changing attitudes as it does about the rising cost of living. Shot using hidden and handheld cameras, the apartment search is given a citizen activist aesthetic. Conflict lurks in the family’s dealings with movers, police, landlords and local business owners. Racial slurs, threats and contract negotiations not normally caught on camera are aired for public consumption in this cautionary tale about capitalism and customer service in modern China. Behold the rise of a new consumer, one who agitates as well as she negotiates. [Synopsis courtesy of Hot Docs]