The peacefulness of a rural village has been disrupted by an outbreak of a disease, which the locals call ‘a fever’. Villagers learn very quickly that there is no cure for the disease and refuse to have anything to do with the infected. Lao Zhuzhu is a teacher at the now-abandoned village school and the father of Zhao Qiquan, the blood merchant responsible for causing the outbreak. He decides to make amendments to the villagers on behalf of his unrepentant son by inviting all the infected villagers, including his younger son, Zhao Deyi, to live with him at the village school, where they will look after one another. One day, Shang Qinqin, donning a red jacket, arrives at the school compound to join the small community…
Directed by Changwei Gu | Starring : Ziyi Zhang, Aaron Kwok, Wenli Jiang, Zeru Tao, Cunxin Pu | Presented at Rome Film Festival
Setting in a northern county of China in late 80s and early 90s of last century, this movie is about a few ordinary people who dreamed to become artists, who are stubborn enough to fight for their dreams, but eventually give in to the mundane life. This is a somehow identical theme appeared in the director’s previous award-winning film “Peacock”. Nevertheless, this is a totally different story. Well written and directed, this is one of the best movies of China of the year. What makes this movie magnificent is that although it’s a sad story, the director was able to add in some delicate and somehow absurd humor, pushing you to the edge of breaking your heart.
Directed by Changwei Gu | Starring : Wenli Jiang, Guangjie Li, Guohua Wu, Xuan Dong, Gang Jiao | Presented at Rome Film Festival
Whereas most Chinese art house movies do actual medical damage to viewers with their chic nihilism and long, boring shots of people riding around in trucks, Peacock is a balm for your soul. The Cultural Revolution is China ‘s national trauma, a harrowing decade of turmoil and destruction where everyone just tried to hold on and survive, and when it ended in 1976 millions emerged blinking into the sunlight, astounded that they were still standing. Peacock follows an average family in the average town of Henyang through the eight years after the end of the Cultural Revolution as they pick up their lives as if nothing happened. It’s a great leap forward for the three adult children of the Gao clan. Anchored by a series of family meals, the kids are trying to make it in the world – Weihong, the daughter has to learn that her dream man isn’t going to solve all her problems; eldest brother Weiguo is a simple-minded fat guy who’s an unmarriageable weight around his parents’ necks; and the middle son, Weiqiang, is the typical middle child, narrating the movie and taking every injustice in life as a personal affront. A two-hour plus movie about a family in post-Revolutionary China sounds deadly, but in the hands of Gu Changwei it becomes essential viewing for the dejected, downtrodden and just plain weary. This is a film that traffics in the belief that it doesn’t matter how bad today gets because as long as we’re alive there’s always the hope for a better tomorrow.
Directed by Changwei Gu | Starring : Jingchu Zhang, Yulai Lu, Li Feng, Meiying Huang, Yiwei Zhao | Presented at Berlin Film Festival. Helsinki Film Festival, Brothers Manaki Film Festival, Sao Paulo Film Festival