二冬 | Er Dong

Er Dong

A rebellious teenager endures boarding school expulsion, family pressures and the harsh realities of rural life in northern China, until an uncovered secret from his past changes his life forever. Er Dong lives alone with his devout Christian mother in a small village. Frustrated with his bad behavior, his mother takes him to a Christian school with the hope that he will find God as well as a new direction in life. Instead, he finds a girlfriend, Chang’e, and their misconduct leads to their expulsion. Together they must face up to the harsh realities of work, parenthood and adult life in the tough economic reality of contemporary China. Recurring nightmares that plague Er Dong lead him to a shocking revelation of his own past. Yang Jin’s second feature is a detail-rich, documentary-style portrait that builds with clear-eyed assurance through the life of a seemingly unheroic and unremarkable country boy. It’s not until the film looks backwards that one gains the full scope of Er Dong’s strangely epic journey. Quietly moving and full of authentic insight into the prospects for youth in rural China, Er Dong announces the arrival of a major new talent in filmmaker Yang Jin.

Directed by Jin Yang | Starring : Li Jun Bai, Ming Juan Yang, Carolan Guan, Xiao Ke Guan | Presented at Pusan Film Festival, Rotterdam Film Festival, Hong Kong Film Festival, Munich Film Festival, Locarno Film Festival, Bangkok Film Festival, Ghent Film Festival

苹果 | Lost in Beijing

Lost in Beijing

Lin Dong and Wang Mei are a childless couple in Beijing, wealthy, approaching middle age. Lin owns a foot-massage parlor. One afternoon he rapes one of his workers, Liu Pingguo, who has nearly passed out from drinking alcohol with a friend. Part of the assault is witnessed by Liu’s husband, An Kun, a window washer. He’s angry with the boss and with his wife, and he seeks compensation. Lin’s wife counsels him and joins in revenge. Then, Liu realizes she’s pregnant and a set of emotional calculations ensues: Lin wants to buy the child, Wang agrees but has conditions, An Kun goes back and forth and barely contains his anger; Liu withdraws. The baby comes. Can anything be sorted out?

Directed by Yu Li | Starring : Bingbing Fan, Tony Leung Ka Fai, Dawei Tong, Elaine Jin, Meihuizi Zeng | Presented at Berlin Film Festival, Tribeca Film Festival, Bangkok Film Festival

刺青 | Spider Lilies

Spider Lilies

When Jade, a web-cam girl visits Takeko’s tattoo studio she becomes entranced with the image of the spider lily and with Takeko as well. In order to get closer to the object of her desire, Jade asks Takeko to give her the same lily tattoo, challenging Takeko’s monastic existence and opening up memories which threaten to tear the two women apart.

Directed by Zero Chou | Starring : Rainie Yang, Isabella Leong, John Shen, Jay Shih, Ping-han Hsieh| Presented at Berlin Film Festival, Bangkok Film Festival

落叶归根 | Getting Home

Getting Home

Zhao is an ageing worker who toils away in Shenzen in order to earn a living. When his friend and colleague Wang suddenly dies, Zhao decides to transport his body back to his native town. He purchases two tickets for the cross-country bus, and pretends that his silent travelling companion has drunk so much alcohol that he has fallen unconscious. Shortly afterwards, the bus is attacked by armed bandits. Zhao asks the bandits to kill him first, so that he can stay with his dead friend forever. Touched by this display of loyalty, the robbers decide to let the bus go. But instead of thanking Zhao, the other passengers throw him and his dead friend off the bus. Pretending that his friend is seriously ill and must be taken to hospital immediately, Zhao tries to flag down passing cars. After spending the night in a hotel, Zhao discovers that all his money has been stolen and begins to lose heart. But he refuses to be browbeaten. Whenever he needs money, he rearranges Wong so that he looks like a beggar. And whenever he is hungry, he joins a funeral party and bawls his eyes out so that he can enjoy the food served at the wake. During his odyssey across China Zhao is obliged to get along with all kinds of people. Just before he reaches his destination, the old man and his dead friend are caught in a torrential downpour, so that now Zhao finds himself engaged in a struggle against nature.

Directed by Yang Zhang | Starring : Benshan Zhao, Dandan Song, Degang Guo, Haiying Sun, Ma Wu | Presented at Berlin Film Festival, Bangkok Film Festival, Cinemanila Film Festival, Vladivostok Film Festival, Vancouver Film Festival, Chicago Film Festival, St. Louis Film Festival, Kerala Film Festival, Wisconsin Film Festival, Edmonton Film Festival

吴清源 | The Go Master

The Go Master

The latest film from celebrated Fifth Generation director Tian Zhuangzhuang, The Go Master shines a light on the life and times of Wu Qingyuan. Better know by his Japanese name Go Seigen, Wu is considered the greatest Go player of the 20th century, his talents bringing him from his native China to a professional career in Japan when he was only a teenager. Based on Wu’s autobiography, this elegantly shot and remarkably restrained biopic follows the life of a singular figure, fascinating not only for his genius and achievements in the game of Go, but also for his unique experiences as a Chinese man in Japan during an immensely turbulent period in history. With the breakout of the Sino-Japanese War in the 1930s, Wu Qingyuan and his family are thrown into an uncomfortable and dangerous position as Chinese nationals residing in Japan. While Wu’s family returns to China, he chooses to stay behind in his adopted country to continue to pursue the game of Go. In the quiet recluse of his school, there are no politics, only the singular dedication to his art and the love for his wife Kazuko. However, the chaos of the times eventually forces him out of his enclave, throwing his life and mind into conflict. Wu joins a cult in a sober pursuit of faith and his own ongoing battle to come to terms with himself.

Directed by Zhuangzhuang Tian | Starring : Chen Chang, Sylvia Chang, Xuejian Li, Ayumi Ito, Yi Huang | Presented at New York Film Festival, Rome Film Festival, Hong Kong Film Festival, Ankara Film Festival, Shanghai Film Festival, Bangkok Film Festival, Cinemanila Film Festival

夜宴 | The Banquet

The Banquet

In 907 AD, the Tang Dynasty is in tatters; infighting snarls the imperial family. Crown Prince Wu Luan loves Little Wan, but his father takes her as his Empress. Wu Luan goes into exile, studying dance and music. His uncle murders his father, taking throne and Empress; uncle sends assassins to kill Wu Luan. The Crown Prince eludes death and comes to court. The Emperor arranges for Little Wan’s coronation and dispatches Wu Luan to a distant land; he then calls for a midnight banquet on the 100th day of his rule. Poison, treachery, Wu Luan’s return, and the love of the innocent Qing for Wu Luan set up the final entanglements. No Fortinbras or Horatio lay the dead to rest.

Directed by Xiaogang Feng | Starring : Ziyi Zhang, You Ge, Daniel Wu, Xun Zhou, Xiaoming Huang | Presented at Venice Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, Bangkok Film Festival, Palm Springs Film Festival, Portland Film Festival, Seattle Film Festival, Dubai Film Festival

看上去很美 | Little Red Flowers

Little Red Flowers

Qiang is a four-year-old little rebel, possessed of a pair of luminous eyes and a precociously indomitable will. His father deposits him at a well-appointed residential kindergarten in post-1949 Beijing, since his parents are often away. Life at the kindergarten appears rich and colourful, made up of a variety of cheerfully sunny rituals and games meant to train these children to be good members of society. But it’s not so easy for Qiang to adapt to this kind of carefully organized, minutely scrutinized collective life. A fierce individualist in miniature, he tries but fails to conform to the model his teachers enforce. Yet he still craves the reward that the other students win: the little red flowers awarded each day as tokens for good behaviour. But Qiang doesn’t win any flowers: he can’t yet dress himself, and doesn’t play together with the other kids. He even dares to talk back to the strict Teacher Li and Principal Kong when they try to impose some discipline on him. Gradually, his charisma and bravado start to win over his classmates: their stealthy little rebellions gain steam when he succeeds in convincing everyone that Teacher Li is a child-eating monster in disguise. When their attempt to capture her is thwarted, Qiang’s resistance develops a more disturbing dimension, and he is forcibly ostracized from his companions. Will he succumb to the adult-enforced conformity around him, or will he insist on growing up his own way, by his own rules?

Directed by Yuan Zhang | Starring : Bowen Dong, Yuanyuan Ning, Zhao Rui, Xiaofeng Li, Chen Manyuan | Presented at Sundance Film Festival, Berlin Film Festival, Bangkok Film Festival, Hong Kong Film Festival, Chicago Film Festival, Marrakech Film Festival, Espoo Film Festival