Swimming Out Till the Sea Turns Blue

Berlinale Documentary Award
Berlin International Film Festival
Moving and fascinating…the richly detailed stories of writers’ lives...link them to the grand forces of history.


Swimming Out Till the Sea Turns Blue

From master director Jia Zhangke (Ash is Purest White, A Touch of Sin) comes a vital document of Chinese society since 1949. Jia interviews three prominent authors—Jia Pingwa, Yu Hua, and Liang Hong—born in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, respectively, and all from the same Shanxi province where Jia also grew up. In their stories, we hear of the dire circumstances they faced in their rural villages and small towns and the substantial political effort undertaken to address it, from the social revolution of the 1950s through the unrest of the late 1980s. In their faces, we see full volumes left unsaid. Jia weaves it all together with his usual brilliance. Swimming Out Till the Sea Turns Blue is an indispensable account of a changing China from one of the country's foremost cinematic storytellers.

“In this leisurely paced, quietly moving film, Jia pays tribute to writers who connect modern urban culture to its provincial roots, and the current era to one that’s quickly being lost to living memory.” -Godfrey Cheshire, RogerEbert.com

“Examines the evolution of a village in the northern province of Shanxi…How did it change? The answer is found in a complicated weave of progress and loss, in changes etched in the faces of people given the time and attention to explain what they have seen.” -A.O. Scott, The New York Times

“Moving and fascinating…the richly detailed stories of writers’ lives peer deep into family troubles and personal struggles and link them to the grand forces of history.” -Richard Brody, The New Yorker

"An ode to the importance of art that is a work of art itself, Swimming Out Till the Sea Turns Blue is yet another fascinating look at contemporary China courtesy of Jia Zhangke." -Film Inquiry

Official Selection - Berlin Film Festival
Official Selection - The New York Film Festival
Official Selection - Busan International Film Festival
Official Selection - Sheffield International Documentary Festival
Not Rated
Zhangke Jia
Nominee, Berlinale Documentary Award, Berlin International Film Festival
Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times

The 51-year-old director Jia Zhangke is widely considered the cinema’s most artful chronicler of a modern China in relentless, mind-boggling flux. He is less consistently recognized as one of the medium’s great foodies, someone whose camera lingers, lovingly if unobtrusively, on images of pork being ...

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