Scene from the film Once Upon a Time in Shanghai
Scene from the film Once Upon a Time in Shanghai
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Once Upon a Time in Shanghai

  • Azerbaijan
  • Germany
  • Georgia
Audio Tracks 

The film sets a strong and confident frame around the last days of ramshackle Shanghai, a notorious slum of Baku whose bowed and painted walls skirt an operating railline’s single track. Like the trains rumbling slowly through Shanghai’s unusual narrow main street, the neighborhood’s stories come into fleeting view, granting glimpses of individual lives and of a place that seems almost timeless. As Veit Helmer, German filmmaker, makes his own use of Shanghai, glistening government-backed oil-money towers loom over the condemned homes. Meanwhile, Gafarova shows us a heat-dream collage of people’s fates and unique everyday lives being actually affected. One of the film’s first voices, half-jokingly, gets it half right: “She’s not filming those who matter! She’s filming the poor people.”


  • Original Title
    Once Upon a Time in Shanghai
  • Direction
  • Screenplay
    Leyli Gafarova
  • Cinematography
    Leyli Gafarova
  • Editing
    Leyli Gafarova
  • Music
    Emin Sabitoglu
  • Sound
    Leyli Gafarova, Michiel De Malsche
  • Runtime
    35 min (31-45 min.)
  • Year
  • Country
    • Azerbaijan
    • Germany
    • Georgia
  • Format
    • Colour
  • Production
  • Festivals
    • IDFA 2018
    • CinéDOC 2019 is powered by Doc Alliance, a creative partnership of 7 key European documentary film festivals. Our aim is to advance the documentary genre, support its diversity and promote quality creative documentary films.

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