Watch the trailer: Fallen City premieres Monday, July 28, 2014, at 10 PM on PBS stations. (Check local listings.)

“What makes Fallen City more compelling than most documentaries of its kind is its emphasis on how its subjects grapple with the challenges of life still to be lived.” — Leslie Felperin, Variety

In today’s go-go China, an old city completely destroyed by a devastating earthquake can be rebuilt — boasting new and improved civic amenities — in an astoundingly quick two years. But, as Fallen City reveals, the journey from the ruined old city of Beichuan to the new Beichuan nearby is long and heartbreaking for the survivors. Three families struggle with loss — most strikingly the loss of children and grandchildren — and feelings of loneliness, fear and dislocation that no amount of propaganda can disguise. First-time director Qi Zhao offers an intimate look at a country torn between tradition and modernity. Official Selection of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. A co-production of ITVS International. A co-presentation with the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM).

“The story of Beichuan is just one of many that remained untold,” says Fallen City filmmaker Qi Zhao. “The city lost some 30,000 lives in the May 2008 earthquake. But added to the tragedy was a lack of compassion and desire to understand what was really lost in the disaster. Much of the population took news reports as the last word on the matter, and Beichuan quickly became a tourist destination. By giving voice to the survivors, Fallen City provides direct and intimate access to the people behind the statistics and headlines. It is not an exploration of the magnitude of the disaster, but a portrait of human choice and human nature writ large in the wake of a tragedy.”

After the broadcast, visit the Fallen City companion site to watch the full film online for free for a limited time following the broadcast (July 29, 2014 to August 28, 2014), learn from the filmmaker in an extended video interview, find out what’s happened since the cameras stopped rolling, explore a map of the new and old cities of Beichuan, download a discussion guide and other viewing resources, and ask filmmaker Qi Zhao your questions live on Tuesday, July 29, 2014, (the day after broadcast) from 11 AM to 12 PM ET (8 AM-9 AM PT).

For updates on POV’s 2014 season, subscribe to POV’s documentary blog, like POV on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @povdocs.

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POV Staff
POV (a cinema term for "point of view") is television's longest-running showcase for independent non-fiction films. POV premieres 14-16 of the best, boldest and most innovative programs every year on PBS. Since 1988, POV has presented over 400 films to public television audiences across the country. POV films are known for their intimacy, their unforgettable storytelling and their timeliness, putting a human face on contemporary social issues.