The Iron Ministry

From The dGenerate Films Collection

Directed by J.P. Sniadecki

83 minutes / Color
English; Mandarin / English subtitles
Release: 2015
Copyright: 2014

Filmed over three years on China's railways, J. P. Sniadecki's masterful documentary traces the vast interiors of a country on the move: flesh and metal, clangs and squeals, light and dark, language and gesture. Scores of rail journeys come together into one, capturing the thrills and anxieties of social and technological transformation. THE IRON MINISTRY immerses audiences in fleeting relationships and uneasy encounters between humans and machines on what will soon be the world's largest railway network.

"Critics Pick! A work of art  vivid and mysterious and full of life." —A. O. Scott, The New York Times

“Moving, revelatory, and often funny." Alan Scherstuhl, The Village Voice

"The best film about China in the twenty-first century that I've seen to date... compiles three years of footage shot during rides on China's extensive railway system. A cow stomach is sliced into edible bits; a man puffs on a bamboo cigar-holder between compartments; the filthy floor is lined with cigarette butts and sleeping human bodies; a precocious little boy sarcastically encourages the crowd to piss and shit in the aisles." Travis Jeppesen, Artforum

"Sniadecki offers a formally controlled look at the range of classes, the implied changes wrought by China's economic boom, and the interactions particular to train travel. Refreshingly, Sniadecki allows the film — or rather, some passengers — to engage in politics, from the rights of minorities to economic pressures." Jay Weissberg, Variety

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A film by J.P. Sniadecki

Select Accolades

  • Best Film, Barcelona L'Alternativa Film Festival 2015
  • Jury Award, Ann Arbor Film Festival 2015
  • International Film Festival of Rotterdam 2015
  • Locarno International Film Festival 2014
  • DocLisboa Film Festival 2014
  • Viennale Film Festival 2014
  • New York Film Festival 2014


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