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“This used to be a cherry orchard”: a video interview with Ryuji Otsuka

Ryuji Otsuka’s film Beijing Ants (2014) explores the consequences of his family’s eviction from a Beijing apartment. From the Open City Documentary Festival.

Rental prices in mainland China have been rising since 2000. And Beijing holds the record, with the cost of renting having almost trebled.

Navigating an unregulated world – where spoken agreements weigh as much as written contracts – Otsuka, his wife, and their one-year-old child set out in search of a new place to live, encountering a number of obstacles on their way.

Otsuka’s work deals with the universality of the human lived experience, especially in a pan-Asian perspective. Originally Japanese, he moved to China in 2005.

His previous film production analyses the themes of law, marriage, citizenship and belonging.

About the authors

Donato is a London-based journalist with a background in social anthropology and economics. His work has appeared in The Times, The Guardian, The New York Times, Al Jazeera, VICE, and other publications. He tweets @donatopmancini.

Dea Gjinovci is a SOAS alumna and recently graduated from UCL with a Master Ethnographic and Documentary film. She is now based in Paris and pursuing a research master in social anthropology at l’Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS). She tweets @dea_gj.

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