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Film made using only public surveillance footage


This movie takes “The Truman Show” to a whole other level.


Chinese film, “Dragonfly Eyes” by Xu Bing, was created using only surveillance footage he found online. An indie film, “Dragonfly Eyes” has been making the international film festival circuit, debuting in the United States at the New York Film Festival in early October, after which it will head to Colorado for Denver International Film Festival.


The film, in its trailer, claims to be the first feature film without actors, actresses, or a camera crew. Instead, Xu uses voice actors to dub over the silent surveillance footage from live streams, webcams and CCTV footage to tell the story — bringing the idea of a (dragon)fly on the wall to life.


According to the YouTube description, ‘the “plot” of the film centers on a female protagonist named Qing Ting, which means dragonfly, who undergoes cosmetic surgery. Meanwhile, her love interest gets jailed trying to please her, and when Qing Ting changes into someone else, he changes into her.

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In order to craft the story, Xu and his team poured over about 10,000 hours of public surveillance videos to make the 81-minute movie. The screenplay was written by poet Zhai Yongming and writer Zhang Hanyi.


Xu, who is the vice-president of the Chinese Central Academy of Fine Arts, isn’t a filmmaker and this is his first film. He is a printmaker and installation artist who was born in Beijing but lived in America for 18 years before heading back to China.

Still from the trailer for “Dragonfly Eyes” a feature film made up entirely of surveillance footage by Chinese artist Xu Bing.

(Xu Bing via YouTube)


The film includes many of the horrific events often caught on security tape: cars falling into sinkholes, people committing suicide, car crashes and even someone getting struck by lightning, using many of these moments to emotionally connect with the presented narrative.


The film deconstructs the ideas of Big Brother, constant surveillance, plastic surgery, privacy and internet fame while exploring a new way of making a film.

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Some of Xu’s previous work includes his most well-known work, “A Book from the Sky,” an installation featuring books and hanging scrolls using faux Chinese characters.

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