When the state-owned Factory 420 becomes a luxury apartment complex known as "24 City," the stories of three generations and eight characters meld together to offer an intimate glimpse into the history of China. The line between documentary and fiction blurs as the towering factories on which socialism was built are dismantled and employees are laid off, paving the way for a free-market economy. Located in Sichuan's capital city of Chengdu, the 420 plant used to produce airplane engines. For more than 50 years, it was the center of life for hundreds of workers. Now, as builders prepare to transform the factory into luxury condos, interviews with real workers and ex-workers are intercut with vignettes about a lonely Shanghai woman (Joan Chen
) exiled in Chengdu, a mother (Lu Liping) who lost her son on the long trip from Shenyang, and a young professional (Zhao Tao
) pondering the uncertain fate faced by her elderly working-class parents.