The Iron Ministry

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    The Iron Ministry

    Directed by



    82 min

    • Mandarin


    Filmed over three years on China’s railways, THE IRON MINISTRY traces the vast interiors of a country on the move: flesh and metal, clangs and squeals, light and dark, and language and gesture. Scores of rail journeys come together into one, capturing the thrills and anxieties of social and technological transformation. THE IRON MINISTRY immerses audiences in fleeting relationships and uneasy encounters between humans and machines on what will soon be the world’s largest railway network.


    • RivieraLab Award/ Work in Progress - Riviera Maya FF



    J.P. Sniadecki
    J.P. Sniadecki
    J.P. Sniadecki


    "the movie sparkles with ideas"

    Eric Kohn, Indiewire

    "outstanding, semi-experimental documentary"

    Neil Young, The Hollywood Reporter

    J.P. Sniadecki

    J.P. Sniadecki


    Before cinema, there is the world, which outstrips every intention and counters every expectation, and the fact that films can register all that untamed possibility is the reason why I continue to try to make them.

    J.P. Sniadecki works between the US and China as a filmmaker and anthropologist. From Chengdu demolition sites to New York City junkyards to the Sonoran Desert borderlands, he explores collective experience, the aesthetics of place, and the possibilities of film form. His films are in the permanent collection of New York’s Museum of Modern Art and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and have been exhibited there and at the Whitney Biennale, the Shanghai Biennale, and the Guggenheim, as well as at international film festivals such as Berlin, BFI London, Locarno, New York, AFI, San Francisco, Rotterdam, Viennale, IDFA, CPH:DOX, Mar del Plata, Taiwan International Documentary Festival, and more. His films, which receive praise from publications such as The New York Times, The Guardian, ArtForum, and Filmmaker Magazine, include Chaiqian/Demolition (2010), winner of the Joris Ivens Award at Cinema du Reel; Foreign Parts (2010, co-directed with Verena Paravel), winner of two Leopards at Locarno and named Best Film at the Punto de Vista Film Festival and DocsBarcelona; People’s Park (2012, co-directed with Libbie Cohn), winner of Best Anthropological Film at Festival dei Popoli; Yumen (2013, co-directed with Huang Xiang and Xu Ruotao), named Best Experimental Film and Best Chinese Film at the Taiwan International Documentary Film Festival; and The Iron Ministry (2014), which garnered the top prize at L'Alternativa Film Festival and jury prizes at the Ann Arbor Film Festival, Valdivia, and Camden. His feature, El Mar La Mar (2017, co-directed with Josh Bonnetta) won the Caligari Award during its premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival, and earned “Best Film” awards at Olhar du Cinema, Dokufest Kosovo, and Lima Independent Film Festival, along with a University Award at Indie Lisboa. He cofounded the traveling screening series “Cinema on the Edge,” which showcases independent Chinese film, and has written articles for Cinema Scope, Visual Anthropology Review, and the edited volume DV-Made China. A 2017 Guggenheim Fellowship recipient, J.P. earned a PhD at Harvard and currently serves as Director of the MFA in Documentary Media at Northwestern University.

    Selected Filmography