Upon entering China’s Yiwu Market, Jessica Kingdon experienced a sensory overload. She had intended to capture the cinematic experience of the world’s largest wholesale mall, but she couldn’t decide what to film. “I kept getting distracted because the number of stalls feels infinite,” Kingdon told The Atlantic. “It’s like the ultimate FOMO experience.”
Ultimately, Kingdon decided to focus on what she describes as “the quieter, more subtle moments” amidst the chaotic atmosphere of the five-mile-long consumer metropolis. Comprised of mostly static shots, her short observational documentary, Commodity City, is a mesmerizing window into the daily lives of some of the 75,000 individual vendors who exhibit more than 400,000 products at Yiwu.
“I saw directly how lives are built around market forces,” Kingdon said of her experience shooting the film. “It’s similar to most other places in the world participating in global capitalism, but in China, it’s more obvious right now.”
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