A poignant and engaging thriller, Vivian Qu’s feature debut plunges us into the fascinating world of state surveillance in China as it follows a digital mapping surveyor’s investigation of an ‘off-the-grid’ hidden alley.

Li Qiuming (Lu Yulai) works at a digital mapping company, photographing the streets that comprise the maze of China’s ever-changing cities. One day while out surveying, he sees through his viewfinder an attractive woman disappearing into a secluded alley. Unable to forget the mysterious lady who has triggered his romantic imagination, Qiuming returns to where he saw her first, only to discover that the data he had collected there was never registered. Even though he stands right there in front of the street sign, Forest Lane has fallen off the map of the city, as if it never existed.

Trap Street is one of the most interesting Chinese films of the year. Contextualized in the uniqueness of China’s recent history, the universal paradoxes of societies in which individual freedom constantly clashes with new forms of control are themselves under surveillance here, trapped between modernity and socialism.

Giovanna Fulvi
Toronto International Film Festival

‘pulses with a sweet, youthful energy’