A northern province of China referred to as Inner Mongolia is a land rich in natural resources. Deposits of coal, copper and oil are found in inaccessible locations and poor infrastructure makes the investments even more difficult. But there is no profit without risk, and he who does not profit is nobody in China. Today’s China is hungry for coal, but coal is heavy, dirty, filled with dust, rocks, and sand. That much is obvious to coal brokers and haulers.
Wang Bing’s film, so well composed of long takes shot close to the subjects, shows the painstaking work of drivers who make their living hauling and selling coal. Every piece of coal, every five yuans make a difference, so they have to haggle and look out for manipulations – they cannot get cheated and have to cheat others. Those are the rules of the game, where someone has to lose. Along the way, they also have to handle corrupt police and minor attempts at blackmail. Difficult conditions and constant uncertainty if the invested pittance will net a return frequently generate aggression. Coal money will never bring them happiness. – WATCH DOCS 2009
Wang Bing (Chinese: 王兵; pinyin: Wáng Bìng) (born 1967 in Shaanxi) is a Chinese director, often referred to as one of the foremost figures in documentary film-making. Wang is the founder of his own production company, Wang Bing Studios, which produces most of his films. Wang’s 9 hour epic documentary of industrial China, Tie Xi Qu was considered a major success. Tie Xi Qu went on to win the Grand Prix at the Marseille Festival of Documentary Film and was shown for the first time in Spain at the Punto de Vista International Documentary Film Festival. Wang’s film, Fengming, a Chinese Memoir, premiered at both Cannes and Toronto in 2007. More recently Crude Oil premiered at the 2008 Rotterdam Film Festival. —Wikipedia