Authoritarian states have a quiet, insidious way of dressing up the immoral in the dowdy finery of the bureaucratically sanctioned. To an audience member sitting for Nanfu Wang’s harrowing new documentary One Child Nation, China’s former policy of permitting one infant per family comes across as frightful stuff, at times borderline dystopian. A western audience would be shocked to hear the elderly speak so nonchalantly on such morbid matters. But Wang wanted to reveal the banality of this particular evil, to show how history can warp the perspective of those living through it.
“Before making this film, I had more judgment for the older generation, how they seemed to be closed-minded,” Wang tells the Guardian over the phone, not 24 hours before Amazon puts her film in American theaters for the widest