The Middle Kingdom – May 19th

The Bozeman Doc Series and Devolution Films present a work-in-progress screening of The Middle Kingdom, the new film from award-winning Bozeman-based filmmaker Jason Burlage, on Thursday, May 19th, at 7pm at the Emerson Center.

An immersive documentary filmed in a neighborhood on the outskirts of Shanghai, The Middle Kingdom is a whirlwind view of the struggle for happiness in one of the world’s largest cities.

In the space of roughly twenty years, Zhudi Town has transformed from a small farming village in the countryside near Shanghai to a bustling part of the city itself. Thousands of migrant workers have flooded the neighborhood’s streets searching for a new life, and most of the locals have been forced to sell their farmlands and fashion new lives for themselves as well. The film is a portrait of a neighborhood in transition filled with people in transition.

At the center of the film is Mr. Che, a highly respected fortune-teller in the community. As they struggle to find their way in the new China, the people of Zhudi come to Mr. Che to reveal their fears and desires and to seek guidance. Bankers and housewives, rich and poor, young and old look to Mr. Che for a glimpse into their futures.

Through the juxtaposition of the real daily lives of the people of the community of Zhudi and the inner lives they reveal to Mr. Che, The Middle Kingdom paints a complex portrait of modern Chinese society.

The film is intended to be a companion piece to Burlage’s first feature documentary, Mi Chacra. Chronicling one year in the life of an indigenous Peruvian family in a small village in the mountains near Cuzco, the film examined the family’s desire to leave their traditional life behind to find a better life in the city. Mi Chacra screened at festivals around the world, winning six awards, including the Grand Prize at the 2010 Banff Mountain Film Festival.

Tickets are available at the door or before the event at Cactus Records and Movie Lovers. Tickets are also available online at, where you can learn more about the event and the series.