Documentary Competition

World Premiere

FEATURE | United States | 97 MINUTES | Chinese | English subtitles



Factory workers diligently parse fabrics and prepare plastic products—like water bottles and binoculars—in clusters and in an assembly line. Men weld metal cylinders with precision, and a networking conference devotes its attention to training a predominantly female audience how to excel in business etiquette. 

These and many other absorbing vignettes are what make up the central focus of Jessica Kingdon’s Ascension: an exploration of contemporary China’s identity as it relates to its vision of consumerism, innovation, and social standing. Kingdon’s rich and unobtrusive access into these arenas captures revealing moments with impressive patience and restraint—but also with surprising moments of humor. The film’s curious and observational lens delivers a hypnotic quality in its visuals, immersing the viewer in the stark differences between social classes, and how the struggles of the working class are laid bare in trying to realize the “Chinese Dream.” Implementing a large-scale visual canvas, Kingdon scrutinizes China’s imposing standing as a global superpower and embeds the viewer in the work ethic and lifestyle of its citizens—showcasing their collective pursuit of success through hard labor and material wealth.
—Jose Rodriguez

2021 Award Winner. Get your Tribeca At Home Awards Pass to watch online. See the full list of 2021 Award Winners here.

Co-hosted by:


Directed by Jessica Kingdon

Jessica Kingdon directed Commodity City and Routine Island, and co-directed It’s Coming!. She was recognized by 25 New Faces of Independent Film and as one of DOC NYC’s 40 Under 40. Her work received support from organizations including San Francisco International Film Festival, Chicken & Egg, Cinereach, and Sundance.

Jessica Kingdon
Kira Simon-Kennedy, Jessica Kingdon, Nathan Truesdell
Jessica Kingdon, Nathan Truesdell
Dan Deacon
Jessica Kingdon
Executive Producer
Ryan Kampe, David Dolby, Natasha Dolby, Kathryn Everett, Bryn Mooser, Tony Hsieh
Associate Producer
Maggie Li, An Xiao Mina
Co-Executive Producer
Justin Lacob, Andy Hsieh
Co- Executive Producer
Justin Lacob, Andy Hsieh
Original Score
Dan Deacon


Press Contact
Susan Norget
Susan Norget Film Promotion
New York, NY 10010
Phone: 917-833-3056
US Sales Contact
Ryan Kampe
Visit Films
Brooklyn, New York 11211
Phone: 718 312 8210
International Sales Contact
Ryan Kampe
Visit Films
Brooklyn, New York 11211
Phone: 718 312 8210
Print Source
Tarek Shoukri
Visit Films
Brooklyn, NY 11211
Phone: 718 312 8210