China’s official foreign-language film Oscar submission (and a rare documentary in that section), “Dream Weavers — Beijing 2008” is a surprisingly engaging and objective look at the whole preparation for the city’s Olympics hoopla through the eyes of various participants, both athletic and non-athletic. Already available on DVD in China, this is prime fodder for docu fests and pubcasters.
Shot by 14 cameramen between July 2001 (the announcement of Beijing’s win) and August ’06, and expertly assembled from a mountain of footage, pic cross-cuts among five strands: one of 4,000 families who were relocated to make room for the Olympic Village north of the city; the construction of the innovative, welded-steel Bird’s Nest stadium; young femme gymnasts competing for the national team; male hurdler Liu Xiang; and the training of a Beijing SWAT team. Most involving and detailed seg is that of the gymnasts, whose grueling workouts, under relentless coach Xiong Jingbin, is shown in all its emotional deprivation, teenie tears and muscle-aching weariness. Experienced distaff documaker Gu Jun (currently editing the Games’ official docu) shows a keen eye for closeup detail and human moments, sans grandstanding. Tech package is tops.