巴尔扎克与小裁缝 | Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress

Balzac

In 1971 China, in the lingering grip of the cultural revolution, two university students, Luo and Ma, are sent to a mountain mining village as part of their reeducation duty to purge them of their classical western oriented education. Amid the backbreaking work and stifling ignorance of the community, the two boys find that music, and the presence of the beautiful local young women are the only pleasant things in their miserable life. However, none compare to the young seamstress granddaughter of the local tailor. Stealing a departing student’s secret cache of forbidden books of classic western literature such as the works of Honore de Balzac, they set about to woo her and teach her things she had never imagined. In doing so, they start a journey that would profoundly change her perspective on her world and teach the boys about the power of literature and their own ability to change their world in truly revolutionary ways.

Directed by Sijie Dai | Starring : Xun Zhou, Ye Liu, Kun Chen, Zhijun Cong, Hongwei Wang | Presented at Cannes Film Festival, Montréal Film Festival, Marrakech Film Festival, Chicago Film Festival, Ghent Film Festival, AFI Film Festival, Palm Springs Film Festival, Göteborg Film Festival, Istanbul Film Festival, Moscow Film Festival, Auckland Film Festival, Copenhagen Film Festival, Milwaukee Film Festival

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扁担.姑娘 | So Close to Paradise

So Close To Paradise

From one of China’s most talented and controversial young filmmakers comes this striking gangster noir which was banned for 3 years by the Chinese government. Reminiscent of Hollywood’s classic B movies from the 1940’s and 50’s, the film tells the story of two country boys, Gao Ping and Dong Zi, who move to the big city to carve out new lives for themselves. While Dong Zi is content with his menial job hauling boxes around the docks, Gao Ping quickly enters a maze of gangsters, crime, and underworld alliances. When Gao Ping kidnaps and then falls in love with Ruan Hong, a beautiful, seductive nightclub singer, his fate is sealed.

Directed by Xiaoshuai Wang | Starring : Shi Yu, Tao Guo, Tong Wang, Tao Wu | Presented at Cannes Film Festival, Auckland Film Festival, Montréal Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, Vancouver Film Festival, Göteborg Film Festival, Singapore Film Festival

海上花 | Flowers of Shanghai

Flowers of Shanghai

After a long line of films interrogating Taiwan’s past and present, Hou Hsiao-hsien turned to 19th-century China, adapting Han Bangqing’s late Qing novel on the upscale brothels of Shanghai’s foreign concessions. Denied permission to shoot in the city itself, Hou made his film entirely in a studio — befitting the cloistered, microcosmic world of the courtesans and their patrons — and reduced the novel’s sprawling cast to a handful of central characters. Cantonese civil servant Wang has hit a rough patch with long-term companion Crimson and looks to her younger rival Laelia; haughty Emerald (Michelle Reis) connives with Luo to buy out her contract; and up-and-coming Jade resists experienced elder courtesan Pearl, and has a liason with the naive Zhu Shuren. These relationships — governed by strict codes of money and power — are conveyed in appropriately sensual yet rigorous style: carefully choreographed camerawork by Lee Ping-bin, a minimal editing scheme (37 shots, each bracketed by fades), and haunting leitmotifs from composer Hanno Yoshihiro.

Directed by Hsiao-hsien Hou | Starring : Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Carina Lau, Michelle Reis, Hada Michiko, Jack Kao | Presented at Cannes Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, Vancouver Film Festival, Chicago Film Festival, Taipei Film Festival, New York Film Festival, Mar del Plata Film Festival, Kerala Film Festival, Auckland Film Festival, Buenos Aires Film Festival, Thessaloniki Film Festival