Hanqi and her friends drift through the suburban area of Hangzhou. Strolling through the concrete and neon-lit landscape of the city, they experience the transformations it undergoes daily. As they drift night after night, they become the living interface of a metamorphosis that cannot be perceived or understood if not by becoming part of it. Thus, Hanqi and her friends catch fleeting glimpses of beauty in an environment that most people would only perceive as alienating, hostile or cold. Like an ambient composition by Brian Eno or Philip Glass, the film moves through minimal variations, completely immersed in its nocturnal beat. Space becomes time. A film like a poem; a coming-of-age movie that escapes all the known clichés. Stephan Knauss proves that he is one of the filmmakers to watch closely in the next future. The way he handles and organizes all the elements of his extremely beguiling work are irrefutable proof for it. Transit Circle is a sensorial ambient film that displays flair and creativity.
—Giona A. Nazzaro, Visions du Réel 2019
cast & crew
director Stephan Knauss producers Hanqi Sheng Stephan Knauss cast Hanqi Sheng Shuiqing Wang Wan Xu Yingying Zheng Minda Xu Jun Geng Momo Si Jun Gao dolly grip Xingbo Shu cinematography Stephan Knauss editors Stephan Knauss Hanqi Sheng sound-design & music composing Mario Schöning additional saxophone Kyle Forester re-recording mix Patrick Dadaczynski translation Philipp Hirschfeld Hanqi Sheng Konouz Saeed illustration Karlotta Freier
Voices enliven the nocturnal city. Before our eyes it grows from the big to the small: from illuminated windows in tower blocks, to the gloomy steel scaffoldings of still uninhabited construction projects to - cut - the suburbs at daybreak that tell of childhoods, of memories, of the melancholy nature of change. The camera remains still as a world passes it by that does not seem to know where to go. Neither it, nor its characters are about to arrive and neither it nor its characters suggest an urge to arrive. They move in an intermediate realm, "Transit", a place where beginning and end slip through one's fingers, a situation of personal and spatial becoming, suburbia. The images are passive, permeable, stuck between feelings of calm and departure. Do you remember the river? Do you remember when we gazed at the stars? Everyday scenes create a space to project distanced nostalgia and the hermetic memory of a place soon to be abandoned.
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In late 2015 I moved as a student to Zhuantang, a suburban area of Hangzhou, where I met Hanqi Sheng and her friends who introduced me to their city and their life around Zhuantang. I was astounded by the dynamic and the beauty of their utopia and at the same time overwhelmed by its daily transformations, that I wanted to make a film purely about the existence of this transit zone and ourselves in this place. A place that's gone, but still there at the same time. So I asked Hanqi Sheng to make this film with me about "a metamorphosis that cannot be perceived or understood if not by becoming part of it."