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93 voters

The Best Documentaries About China

Updated October 21, 2021 277 votes 93 voters 14.5k views39 items

List RulesDocumentaries about China and all things Chinese.

This list of the best documentaries about China has been ranked by the community and includes popular and recognizable titles, along with independent films. What is the best documentary about China? Vote up your favorites below.

As you vote, the order of the list will be changed to see which documentary about China comes out on top. If you do not see your favorite on the list, add it along with the titles so that others can vote on it as well. This list currently includes titles such as, Manufactured Landscapes, Petition, and Disorder.

Documentaries are nonfiction and made with the intention of displaying reality for historical purposes and to educate those watching the film. Most documentaries are driven by independent filmmakers and those passionate about the topics they are portraying.
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    Manufactured Landscapes is a 2006 feature length documentary film about the work of photographer Edward Burtynsky. It was directed by Jennifer Baichwal and is distributed by Zeitgeist Films....  more
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    Zhao Tao, Wang Hongwei
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    Released2006

    Directed byJia Zhangke

    Still Life is a 2006 Chinese film directed by Jia Zhangke. Shot in the old village of Fengjie, a small town on the Yangtze River which is slowly being destroyed by the building of the Three Gorges...  more
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    "“Petition – The court of the complainants”, directed by Zhao Liang, is a unique testimony about China today. Since 1996 Zhao Liang has filmed the “petitioners”, who come from all over China to make...
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    Please Vote for Me is a 2007 documentary film following the elections for class monitor in a 3rd grade class of eight-year-old children in the Evergreen Primary School in Wuhan, China. The...  more
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    Beijing Besieged by Waste is a 2011 documentary film directed by Jiuliang Wang....
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    Yung Chang
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    Released2008

    Directed byYung Chang

    When in 1998 Chilean judge Juan Guzmán was assigned the first criminal cases against the country's ex-dictator, General Augusto Pinochet, no one expected much. Guzmán had supported Pinochet's 1973...  more
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    Darren Kendrick, Alan Samulski
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    Released2009

    Directed byHuang Weikai, Weikai Huang, Jack Thomas Smith

    Disorder is a 2009 documentary film directed by Weikai Huang....  more
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    Umbrella or San is a Chinese documentary film directed by Du Haibin and released in 2007. The film documents the experiences of modern rural China, particularly five social groups: students,...  more
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    "Much like the written ideograms in Chinese languages, the twelve chapters forming Guo Xiaolu's latest documentary, Once Upon a Time Proletarian: 12 Tales of a Country, transcend conventional...
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    The Gate of Heavenly Peace is a 1995 documentary film, produced by Richard Gordon and Carma Hinton, about the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989....  more
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    Meishi Street, directed by Ou Ning, is a 2006 independent Chinese documentary that portrays a group of Beijing residents protesting the planned destruction of their street prior to the 2008 Beijing...  more
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    "With this absorbing three-part epic documentary, Zhao Dayong joins the ranks of the essential Chinese independent filmmakers, led by Jia Zhangke and Wang Bing. Zhiziluo is a remote village in...  more
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    Huifang Duan, Liang Hong
    4
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    Released2020

    Directed byJia Zhangke

    Swimming Out Till the Sea Turns Blue is a 2020 Chinese documentary film by Jia Zhangke. Filmmaker Jia Zhangke chronicles his local literature festival in Shanxi, China which includes a...  more

    #139 of 486 The Greatest Documentaries of All Time#46 of 132 Life-Changing Documentaries You've Got to See#27 of 83 The Best Foreign Documentary Films

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    Cui Jian, Dou Wei
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    Released1993

    Directed byZhang Yuan

    Beijing Bastards is a 1993 drama film by sixth generation director Zhang Yuan, and is one of the first independently produced Chinese films....  more
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    Zhao Tao, Jing Dong Liang
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    Released2000

    Directed byJia Zhangke

    Platform is a 2000 Chinese film written and directed by Jia Zhangke. The film is named after a popular song about waiting at a railway platform. It is set in and around the small city of Fenyang,...  more
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    Seoul Train is a 2004 documentary film that deals with the dangerous journeys of North Korean defectors fleeing through or to China. These journeys are both dangerous and daring, since if caught,...  more
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    Inside Fighting China is a 1941 Canadian short documentary film directed by Stuart Legg, and narrated by Lorne Greene. The film documents China's resistance to Japan's invasion during World War II....  more
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    China’s Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province is a film directed by Jon Alpert and Matthew O'Neill and released on January 21, 2010....  more
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    Karamay is a 2010 documentary film by Chinese director Xu Xin about the 1994 Karamay fire. It is largely black-and-white....  more
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    A Song for Tibet is a 1991 Canadian short documentary film about efforts of Tibetans in exile, led by the Dalai Lama, to free their homeland and preserve their heritage. Directed by Anne Henderson, A...  more
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