MTV Documentary Films has acquired worldwide rights to “Ascension (登楼叹),” Jessica Kingdon’s observational portrait of the economic growth of China, as well as the class divides that this expansion has exposed. The pact comes on the heels of the film’s wins at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival, where “Ascension” debuted to rave reviews, and awards for both best documentary and best new documentary filmmaker.
MTV Documentary Films will release the film on Oct. 8 and qualify it for awards consideration later this year.
“Jessica Kingdon, inspired by her Great Grandfather, Zheng Ze’s century old poem, ‘Ascension,’ finds that his prophetic vision is realized in China today,” said Sheila Nevins, executive producer of MTV Documentary Films. “Quote: ‘I ascend… to find that everywhere is already razed.’ Kingdon observes the contemporary dehumanization created by mass production in an informative and poetic film style.”
Here’s the official longline: “Mesmerizing in its imagery and shot in 51 locations across the country, ‘Ascension’ is a cinematic exploration of China’s industrial supply chain that reveals the country’s growing class divide through staggering observations of labor, consumerism and wealth. The film ascends through the levels of the capitalist structure: workers running factory production, the middle class selling to aspirational consumers, and the elites reveling in a new level of hedonistic enjoyment. In traveling up the rungs of China’s social ladder, we see how each level supports and makes possible the next while recognizing the contemporary ‘Chinese Dream’ remains an elusive fantasy for most.”
“I am so honored and delighted to be able to work with Sheila Nevins and the entire team at MTV Documentary Films on the release of ‘Ascension (登楼叹),’” Kingdon said. “I deeply admire Sheila’s keen attention to detail, eagerness to dig deeper and dedication to the documentary arts and could not be happier for this opportunity.”
The sale was negotiated by Visit Films on behalf of the filmmakers and Lance McPherson on behalf of MTV Documentary Films.
“Ascension” was directed and edited by Kingdon and produced by Kira Simon-Kennedy, Kingdon and Nathan Truesdell. Cinematography is by Kingdon and Nathan Truesdell. Original score is by Dan Deacon. Executive producers are Ryan Kampe, David and Natasha Dolby, Kathryn Everett, Bryn Mooser and Tony Hsieh. Co-executive producers are Justin Lacob and Andy Hsieh.