Tribeca Film Festival – Best Documentary Feature!
An exploration of the pursuit of wealth and the paradox of progress in modern China, Ascension examines what living the so-called "Chinese Dream" looks like today. A fascinating take on achieving the "Chinese Dream" in a style reminiscent of Godfrey Reggio meets Frederick Wiseman.
Factory workers diligently parse fabrics and prepare plastic products—like water bottles and binoculars—in clusters and in an assembly line. Men weld metal cylinders with precision, and a networking conference devotes its attention to training a predominantly female audience how to excel in business etiquette.
These and many other absorbing vignettes are what make up the central focus of Jessica Kingdon’s Ascension: an exploration of contemporary China’s identity as it relates to its vision of consumerism, innovation, and social standing. Kingdon’s rich and unobtrusive access into these arenas captures revealing moments with impressive patience and restraint—but also with surprising moments of humor. The film’s curious and observational lens delivers a hypnotic quality in its visuals, immersing the viewer in the stark differences between social classes, and how the struggles of the working class are laid bare in trying to realize the “Chinese Dream.” Implementing a large-scale visual canvas, Kingdon scrutinizes China’s imposing standing as a global superpower and embeds the viewer in the work ethic and lifestyle of its citizens—showcasing their collective pursuit of success through hard labor and material wealth. – Jose Rodriguez, Tribeca Film Festival