Oscar 2021: Best Documentaries–Ascension


STUDIO MTV Documentary Films

DIRECTOR Jessica Kingdon


TOP AWARDS National Board of Review top doc; 6 Critics Choice noms; PGA, Gotham and Independent Spirit Awards noms

It’s possible that Kingdon’s documentary Ascension (winner of Tribeca’s top doc prize) won’t contribute to your understanding of President Xi Jinping’s “Chinese Dream.”

Presented with no narrative and limited structure, Ascension is a collection of breathtaking images and revelatory vignettes that position China as a simultaneously alien and completely universal cultural and industrial landscape, never spelling out which direction is real progress.

Kingdon’s observational film was shot across 51 locations around China and uses “class” as its structure, such as it is.

Ascension is loosely divided into three parts, starting with the workers in Chinese factories, moving into a middle class positioned at the burgeoning consumer culture (salespeople, influencers and attendants to the rich), and finally the wealthy with their embrace of Western excess.