During the discussion after the film screening, someone mentioned erasure, and that got me thinking -- it's hard to think about erasure without thinking about trace.
So what is being erased? Could be physical homes or a Chinese culture. The physical homes were completely erased by the rising water -- we saw that time-lapsed in the film. And Chinese culture is being erased -- or perhaps masked or transformed -- by the Western culture influence.
Even though the homes were erased there is still a trace. The people who once lived in those homes are the trace. People are the trace in terms of culture as well! When culture mixes, the people are the product and reflect what used to be.
These traces are not permanent. People die, eventually. But these traces can live on through memorial construction and stories. And this film!
In class we discussed some of the director's intents when making this film. Yes, he chose which stories would make the best film and yes, perhaps he chose the clips which would portray some voices as a stereotypical representative of the collective. But I think his most important intent -- just as it is with every storyteller-- was to leave a trace.