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Supported by SFFILM

Doc Stories film series


Directed by Jessica Kingdon

USA | Documentary | 98

5 Nov
Fri, Nov 5, 2021 at 8:00 pm PT

Guests Expected

Director Jessica Kingdon and producers Kira Simon-Kennedy and Nathan Truesdell are expected to attend.


Wielding an inquisitive camera and crafting a kaleidoscope of vignettes, Jessica Kingdon’s debut feature film is a visceral exploration of contemporary China’s identity and the paradoxes of economic progress. Deftly observing factory workers create everything from binoculars to sex dolls, the film tracks the collective pursuit of professional success in a communist society. With pathos and humor, Kingdon captures the intense physical demands, aggressive corporate policies, and creative collaboration that fuel the ever-expanding labor force of the People’s Republic of China. The filmmaker leaves you to ponder the costs of commodification while also shining a light on the resiliency of the human spirit.

Director Jessica Kingdon

New York-based Jessica Kingdon is a Chinese-American director/producer named one of “25 New Faces of Independent Film” by Filmmaker Magazine and selected for the 2020 DOC NYC “40 Under 40” list. Her award-winning short Commodity City (2017) was shortlisted for a Cinema Eye Honor and has played at over 50 film festivals. Jessica’s producer credits include Tania Cypriano’s Born to Be (2019), Ian Bell’s 808: How We Respond (2019), Nathan Truesdell’s The Water Slide (2018), and Johnny Ma’s Old Stone (2016). Jessica’s recent feature debut, Ascension, premiered at the 2021 Tribeca Festival where it won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary.

Producer Kira Simon-Kennedy

Kira Simon-Kennedy is the co-founder & co-director of China Residencies, a multifaceted arts nonprofit that has supported hundreds of different international creative exchanges to China since its inception in 2013. She has been a fellow at NEW INC, the New Museum’s incubator for art, design & technology, as well as the IFP Made in NY Media Center, creating Rivet, a platform to connect creative people with opportunities worldwide. She produces independent films and documentaries, including Jessica Kingdon’s award-winning short documentary Commodity City and her first feature film, Ascension 登楼叹 (Tribeca winner for Best Documentary 2021 & Best New Director); as well as ongoing series about the creative scenes in China’s 2nd and 3rd tier cities, and a previous year long project about China’s underground music scene for the record label Modern Sky. She is currently producing documentaries by Shelley Cheung Claudon, Jiayu Yang, Pénélope Bendrimia, and An Xiao Mina. Before the pandemic, she split her time between China, France and the US. She now lives mostly online.

Producer Nathan Truesdell

Nathan Truesdell was selected for the inaugural “DOC NYC 40 Under 40” list. His directorial work includes the award-winning Balloonfest (2017), The Water Slide (2018), the Field of Vision produced series The Art of Making Money (2019) and It’s Coming! (2020). He was the camera department head for the HBO series How to with John Wilson (2020). He produced and co-DP’ed the Tribeca winner Ascension (2021), was the main cinematographer on Speaking is Difficult (2016) and a Producer of Peace in the Valley (2016), both premiering in the shorts competition at Sundance 2016. He produced documentaries such as We Always Lie to Strangers (SXSW, 2013), Caucus (Hot Docs, 2013), and Convention (LAFF, 2010), and co-produced The Gospel of Eureka (SXSW, 2018). Truesdell was DOP for the Al Jazeera America series Midterms (2014). He was a cinematographer on Dope is Death (True/False, 2020), shot  Deprogrammed (Tribeca, 2015) and was a cinematographer and editor on Killing Them Safely (Tribeca, 2015). He also served as art director for the narrative film You’re Next (TIFT, 2011). He is a Producer of The Cinema Eye Honors.

Film Details

Language Mandarin

Year 2021

Premiere Bay Area

Runtime 98

Country USA, China

Director Jessica Kingdon

Executive Producer Ryan Kampe, David Dolby, Natasha Dolby, Kathryn Everett, Bryn Mooser, Tony Hsieh

Producer Kira Simon-Kennedy, Jessica Kingdon, Nathan Truesdell

Editor Jessica Kingdon

Cinematographer Jessica Kingdon, Nathan Truesdell

Music Dan Deacon