One year ago, Beijing, China played host to the Olympic Games. Amidst a fair bit of controversy, the Games opened and closed with spectacular ceremonies directed by filmmaker Zhang Yimou. For those two weeks or so, the world's attention was focused on Beijing. But what about the years leading up to the Games? How did Beijing residents deal with the far-ranging, massive, and incredible extensive preparations?
Boomtown Beijing -- now available to stream online, for free, courtesy of our friends at SnagFilms -- peers through the eyes of Beijing residents, the millions of folks who had to deal with construction projects decimating old neighborhoods, ever-increasing traffic and congestion, and a multitude of billboards and other signs exhorting the nation's citizens to fulfill the slogan of the games: "Faster, Higher, Stronger." Filmmaker Tan Siok Siok interviews a good range of people, from a taxi driver who feels that he's realized a dream and now faces intense pressure to meet the new, high standard of service demanded, to an 11-year-old boy who happily participates in his school's reenactments of the ancient Olympic Games (his father, known as "the mad man," is behind it all) even as he not-so-secretly wishes to be the Olympic torch-bearer.
Now that some time has passed, Boomtown Beijing provides a good reminder of the challenges that the residents of Beijing -- and the whole of China itself -- faces in adapting to a changing world. More information about the film is available at its official site and at SnagFilms.
Watch Boomtown Beijing, in its entirety, after the jump!