Ascension

Jessica Kingdon

From workers in a sex-doll factory to the production of Trump fan hats: Jessica Kingdon's documentary film about the ''Chinese dream'' speaks primarily in images. The recruitment of workers reminds one somewhat of a cattle market, as air-conditioned eight-bed rooms are advertised over loud speakers. Ascension is definitely not a promotional video for China, but that's exactly what makes the collage's unique insight into Chinese factory work and mass consumption so fascinating and even unexpectedly humorous at times. From the influencer course to overcrowded waterparks, everything is secondary to efficiency. Through the juxtaposition of different social classes–production, consumption, and prosperity–the absurdity of capitalism is made clear, as China itself is also a country full of contradictions. Even personal freedom in life is distributed differently among the classes.

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Direction Jessica Kingdon
Country USA / China
Year 2021
Duration 96 min
Language Original with English Subtitles
Production Kira Simon-Kennedy, Jessica Kingdon, Nathan Truesdell
Camera Jessica Kingdon, Nathan Truesdell
Script Kira Simon-Kennedy, Jessica Kingdon, Nathan Truesdell
Editing Jessica Kingdon
Music Dan Deacon


Oscar Nomination 2022 - Best Documentary

About the Director

The Chinese American documentary filmmaker Jessica Kingdon lives in New York. Her award-winning short documentary, Commodity City (2017), about the world's largest shopping center in Yiwu, China, was played at over 50 festivals. Ascension, Kingdon's first feature-length documentary, celebrated its world premiere at the TRIBECA Film Festivals and has earned a nomination at the Oscar 2022 in the Best Documentary Feature category, in addition to numerous other awards.

Press Reviews

Screen International: „A shrewdly observed documentary (...) Kingdon confidently allows the images to tell a fascinating, universal story of inequality and class division.“

Hyperallergenic: „Riveting (...) A fascinating commentary on the everyday, often punctuated with humor.“

CBS News: „This snapshot of the rise of China as a consumerist society is visually mesmerizing and, in its scope, soul deadening.“

The Director on the Film

„I was drawn to the visual excess and paradox of Yiwu, and yet what struck me was not the inhumanity of its proportions and aims, but rather the human life that flourished within its boundaries […] and I started to seek out spaces in which this paradox was exemplified. That journey across China and between class lines became my first feature documentary, Ascension.“



(In presence of the producer)

International feature film program