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A Terrible Beauty

A Terrible Beauty tells a speculative tale of two time travelling companions, Lucy and Blue as they journey through the mysterious “Miracle City" - an intriguing place populated with eternal goods, forever flowers and perpetual persons.

Will the travellers find what †hey are looking for, or are they doomed to wandering forever?

A Terrible Beauty is an experimental endeavour to position documentary film in an immanent future, aiming to explore the notion of being human in a complex multispecies world. The film blends documentary observation with science fiction to speak of a post human present/future.  It invites us to revisit questions around technology, ethics, mortality and what it means to be human in our times. A Terrible Beauty unfolds within the realm of anthropomorphic goods and objects, such as dolls, mannequins, and androids, and explores  the ambivalent state of dread and excitement through which humans encounter technology. It dwells amidst the paradoxes involved in the perpetual making and unmaking of the human and invites the audience to visit a post-human future inhabited by humans and their “companion copies”.  

A Terrible Beauty has predominantly been filmed in Yiwu, a city hosting one of the world's largest wholesale markets for small commodities, and a significant node on the New Silk Road. It advances propositions on how documentary film can be situated in an ordinary future and the significance of such future-oriented exploration. The film delves into the evolving narrative techniques that bridge the realms of science fiction and documentary practice, aiming to envision plausible, habitable futures through speculative storytelling.

Key credits:

Featuring: Yang Aiqin, Wang Xinlu, and Lucy | Spoken Word: Iyesha Geeth Abbas,  Iram Ghufran & Zinnia Ambapardiwala 

Direction, Cinematography & Editing: Iram Ghufran | Assistant Direction & Location Sound: Wang Xinlu | English Subtitle: Zinnia Ambapardiwala 

Music & Sound design: Shreya Gupta & Venkatesh Iyer | Executive Producers: Joshua Oppenheimer & Rosie Thomas | Producer: Iram Ghufran

The film was made with the support of Westheavens (Shanghai), Moonchu Foundation (Hong Kong) and University of Westminster (London)

Technical details:

Duration: 52 minutes | Format: HD| Year of Production: 2023

Language: English | CC: English

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Production still, A Terrible Beauty, 2023
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