The Chinese Mayor

Hao Zhou

China 2015, 86 min.


Spoken language: Chinese (Mandarin)

Subtitles: English

Festival year: 2016

Fascinating cinéma vérité about mayor Geng of the Chinese city of Datong, who embarks on an immense demolition and building project to transform his city into a tourist attraction. He’s convinced that when this gigantic project is complete the tourists will come pouring in, ensuring the city’s economic future.


Mayor Geng Yanbo of Datong has put his heart and soul into his dream project of restoring and reconstructing the monumental city wall. He’s convinced that when this is completed, the tourists will come pouring in, ensuring the city’s economic future. The project has led to nearly half a million residents being forced to move.

Director Hao Zhou follows the mayor over a period of two years as he attempts to balance general public interest and a sense of individual justice and humanity. This doesn’t prove easy, for how should one go about rehousing people who are residing illegally in the first place? This prompts debate and demonstrations. Geng doesn’t shy away from confrontation. ‘Don’t try to challenge the government,’ he warns. Geng is also hard on himself, which drives his wife to despair. We discover that he is at the mercy of the party leadership, which he believes is unsympathetic to his Buddhist outlook. But when all is said and done, temporary personal ambitions are irrelevant, because ‘Datong will write a significant page in China's history!’

Official website:



Zhaoqi Films

+86 13801198369

Dutch distribution:

IDFA Bertha Fund

+31 206273329

World sales:

AUTLOOK Filmsales


Talkshows & debates

The Chinese Mayor: Q&A with various guest

Friday, March 25, 2016 - 19:00

Ardi Bouwers will talk to sinologist and architect Brechtje Spreeuwers and journalist Bert van Dijk, former China reporter of the Dutch newspaper Financieel Dagbad.