- Associated Press - Monday, September 6, 2010

VENICE, ITALY (AP) - The Ditch (Le Fosse), a film exploring Chinese labor camps for dissidents, is a late addition to Venice Film Festival entries vying for the Golden Lion award.

Director Wang Bing’s entry is a documentary-like project set in the late 1950s, when China’s communist government condemned to forced labor thousands of citizens who were considered dissidents for a variety of reasons.

For the film, the director said he interviewed many survivors of Jiabiangou Camp and “learned from them about the realities of their time there.”

The screenplay is based on the survivors’ stories and on the book, “Goodbye, Jiabiangou” by Yang Xianhui. The film is a co-production from Hong Kong, France and Belgium.

The theme is reminiscent of a surprise entry in the 2006 Venice Film Festival, “Still Life,” that went on to win the Golden Lion for director Jia Zhangke. That film depicted the dislocation of the people of an ancient village so that a dam could be built to avert flooding.

Asian films and Asian directors have been heavily showcased at several recent editions of the festival.

The Golden Lion will be awarded on the festival’s closing day, Sept. 11.

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