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Lan Yan

13 minutes

In the shadows of high-rises, Shanghai’s small neighbourhoods struggle to survive

In China’s biggest city Shanghai, urbanisation and modernisation have led to the decline of shikumen – traditional neighbourhoods where families live alongside one another in shared residences on cramped, narrow streets. This short documentary explores the pleasures and stresses of life in Lan Yan, a shikumen that has survived as government-sponsored high-rise apartment buildings have swallowed up all the surrounding areas. A collaboration between students from San Francisco State University and Shanghai Normal University, the film follows Zhang JianXin, a bus driver and longtime Lan Yan resident, who is raising his daughter to share his fondness for a fast-disappearing way of life. Knowing the state’s drive for modernisation will likely soon sweep Lan Yan away, Zhang reflects on what is lost when tight-knit communities are replaced by high-rises that most residents don’t want and can’t afford.

Directors: Jamie Oliveira, Danielle Schmidt, Pawara Soh

Support Aeon

Ideas can change the world

Aeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge and a cosmopolitan worldview.

But we can’t do it without you.

Aeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge and a cosmopolitan worldview. Our mission is to create a sanctuary online for serious thinking.

No ads, no paywall, no clickbait – just thought-provoking ideas from the world’s leading thinkers, free to all. But we can’t do it without you.

Become a Friend for $5 a month or Make a one-off donation

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