Department of Architecture – Film Screening and Discussion
The Land of Many Palaces
Discussant: Nikolas Ettel, Dr. Kal Ng, Diego Caro
In Ordos, China, thousands of farmers are being relocated into a new city under a government plan to modernise the region. The documentary film, “The Land of Many Palaces” follows a government official whose job is to convince these farmers that their lives will be better off in the city and a farmer in one of the last remaining villages in the region who is pressurised to move. The film explores a process that will take shape on an enormous scale across China, since the central government announced plans to relocate 250,000,000 farmers to cities across the nation, over the next 20 years.
Ordos is a city in Inner Mongolia of China. Local officials are faced with local infrastructure planning problems, such as economic exploitation of local natural resources, dwindling water supplies and the continual expansion of the Ordos Desert. In 2003, Ordos city officials launched a new city district Kangbashi, which is planned to accommodate 1 million people. As of 2010, this new 35 km2 city has a housing capacity for at least 300,000 people but only has a population of 20,000 to 30,000 residents.
Adam James Smith (co-director/co-producer)
Adam is a Stanford and Cambridge educated filmmaker with a keen interest in urbanization, and how individuals and communities adapt to rapid change. To date, he has produced, directed and edited four short documentaries in America – The Diner, Love & Allegiance (co-dir Tijana Petrovic), Shangri-La, Role Play – and one feature documentary in China, The Land of Many Palaces (co-dir Song Ting). He is currently in post-production on two projects also shot in China – Americaville, a feature-documentary about the replica of the Wyoming town of Jackson Hole on the outskirts of Beijing, and Nightworld, an experimental kaleidoscopic meditation on nighttime in Chongqing. In addition to making his own films, he has worked for Rabbit Bandini Productions, Stanford’s Office of Public Affairs, the China Central Academy of Fine Arts, the Visual Anthropology Lab at the University of Cambridge, and the Chinese National Academy of Painting. Adam is currently an Assistant Professor of Multimedia at Florida Atlantic University and lives between Boca Raton, FL and Aliso Viejo, CA.
Song Ting (co-director/co-producer)
Ting gained an MFA in Film Production from Tisch School of the Arts, New York University in 2012 and dual BAs in English and Finance from University of International Business & Economics (Beijing) in 2007. She co-directed feature documentary THE LAND OF MANY PALACES with Adam Smith. This film won “Best International Documentary” at Rome Independent Film Festival and “Best Documentary Feature” at Moscow International Documentary Film Festival etc. In 2015 Ting directed a 3-episode TV documentary series VOLKSWAGEN TOUAREG 21-DAY CROSSING-CHINA ROADTRIP that is about five travelers exploring the cultural and historical changes along China’s famous Heihe-Tengchong Line. In 2014 Ting directed China Central TV’s documentary THE INVISIBLE CHINA that is about 5 pioneering Chinese architects including China’s only Pritzker award winner Wang Shu. She has also made a dozen of short documentaries for CNN’s Great Big Story programmes and produced projects for Discovery Channel since 2016.
On the fiction film side, in 2013 Ting co-produced short film MY FATHER’S TRUCK directed by Mauricio Osaki (Brazil), which was shot-listed for “Best Short Film” at Oscar 2015 and premiered in “Short Film Competition” at Berlinale 2014. She directed short film THE WAY HOME, which won “Best Student Short” at Hampton International Film Festival, and won “Best Producing” at 2014 NYU First Run Film Festival etc.. Ting is developing her first fictional feature film HOUSE IN THE MIRAGE which is about a young couple struggling to buy an apartment in Beijing. She has received Script Development Award at the 2017 Xining First Film Festival.