He studied photography at the Lu Xun Academy of Fine Arts in Shenyang, an industrial city where, years later, he would film West of the Tracks. From there he moved on to the Beijing Film Academy, where he discovered the work of Antonioni, Bergman, Pasolini and Tarkovsky. In 2002 he made West of the Tracks, a nine-hour documentary about the decline of a vast industrial zone in North-East China. Since then, he has continued to work in the same mode. In 2014, he had a major show at the Pompidou Centre in Paris, and in 2017 won the Golden Leopard at Locarno for Mrs. Fang. In 2021, Le BAL in Paris mounted an exhibition entitled “The Walking Eye”, and the French Cinematheque presented a retrospective of his films.

Filmography

Man in Black (2023), Youth (Spring) (2023, D'A 2024), Beauty Lives in Freedom, Gao Ertai (2018), Dead Souls (2018), 15 Hours (2017), Mrs. Fang (2017, D'A 2018), Bitter Money (2016, D'A 2017), Ta’ang (2016), Father and Sons (2014), Traces (short film, 2014), 'Til Madness Do Us Part (2013), Alone (2012), Three Sisters (2012), The Ditch (2010), Man With No Name (2009), Coal Money (mid-length film, 2008), Crude Oil (2008), Brutality Factory (short film, 2007), Fengming, a Chinese Memoir (2007), Tie Xi Qu: West of the Tracks (2003)