The film sets a strong and confident frame around the last days of ramshackle Shanghai, a notorious slum of Baku whose bowed and painted walls skirt an operating railline’s single track. Like the trains rumbling slowly through Shanghai’s unusual narrow main street, the neighborhood’s stories come into fleeting view, granting glimpses of individual lives and of a place that seems almost timeless. As Veit Helmer, German filmmaker, makes his own use of Shanghai, glistening government-backed oil-money towers loom over the condemned homes. Meanwhile, Gafarova shows us a heat-dream collage of people’s fates and unique everyday lives being actually affected. One of the film’s first voices, half-jokingly, gets it half right: “She’s not filming those who matter! She’s filming the poor people.”
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