白鹿原 | White Deer Plain

White Deer Plain

Wang Quan’an’s epic takes place towards the end of imperial China in a period of dramatic political and social upheaval. The film is set in the eponymous White Deer Village in Shaanxi Province where the two most important families – Bai and Lu – and their sons have always lived together in peace. But the turmoil leads to a fierce struggle for land ownership. A young woman new to the village soon finds herself caught between the two camps. Director Wang Quan’an uses the story of these two families as a metaphor for the fate of the Chinese people as first Chinese war lords are overrun by Japanese invaders, then civil war follows hot on the heels of the Second World War and finally the victorious Maoists begin waving their red flags. White Deer Plain is an adaptation of an historical novel of the same name by Chen Zhongshi which was blacklisted for many years on account of its explicit sex scenes. As in his earlier works Tuya’s Marriage and Apart Together, Wang Quan’an’s new work focuses once again on the fortunes of a female protagonist. Using her beauty as a way of gaining influence and a means of survival, the heroine of his latest film nonetheless manages to remain true to herself and those she loves.

Directed by Quan’an Wang | Starring : Fengyi Zhang, Kitty Zhang Yuqi, Gang Wu, Wei Liu, Taisheng Chen | Presented at Berlin Film Festival, Hong Kong Film Festival, Montréal Film Festival

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梅兰芳 | Forever Enthralled

Forever Enthralled

Acclaimed Fifth Generation director Chen Kaige brings the tumultuous life of Peking Opera legend Mei Lanfang to the big screen in the highly anticipated biopic Forever Enthralled. The inspiration for Leslie Cheung’s character in Chen Kaige’s 1993 masterpiece Farewell My Concubine, Mei Lanfang was one of the greatest Peking Opera stars of modern China. An actor who specializes in female roles, he was renowned for his great beauty on stage and performed extensively around the world, famously introducing Peking Opera to Western audiences. Pulling viewers into a riveting world of musical allure and historical tumult in early 20th century China, Forever Enthralled follows Mei Lanfang’s amazing, inevitable rise to fame – from his bold challenges against his teacher as a teenager, to his US tour that brought New York to its feet, and finally to his refusal to sing during the Japanese Occupation period. Portrayed in youth by newcomer Yu Shaoqun and in adulthood by Hong Kong star Leon Lai, Mei Lanfang embodies the professional and emotional struggles of a man whose life belonged not to himself, but to the stage.

Directed by Kaige Chen | Starring : Leon Lai, Ziyi Zhang, Honglei Sun, Hong Chen, Xueqi Wang | Presented at Berlin Film Festival, Seattle Film Festival, Rio de Janeiro Film Festival, Ghent Film Festival

光荣的愤怒 | Trouble Makers

Trouble Makers

Trouble Makers tells the story of four simple men living in Black Well Village (in rural Yunnan province) who decide to finally run the criminal Xiong Brothers out of their homes. The Xiongs have managed to build a criminal “empire” in the small town even managing to elect themselves the mayor and official accountant of Black Well Village. Two other brothers enforce the Xiongs’ will with violence and intimidation. The brothers, known by the political-infused moniker, the Gang of Four, smuggle salt and generally terrorize the villagers of Black Well.

Directed by Baoping Cao | Starring : Gang Wu, Yanhui Wang, Xiaobo Li, Yi Zhu, Qingsan Kong | Presented at Montréal Film Festival

炮打双灯 | Red Firecracker, Green Firecracker

Red Firecracker

Nie Bao played by Wu Gang is a poor painter who finds work in the house of the Cai family, whose wealth is built on the making of firecrackers. On her parents’ demise, Chun Zhi, the daughter, takes over the business. Raised as a man to effectively run the family business, Chun Zhi falls in love with Nie Bao, and faces for the first time, new sexual desires within her. However, their love is against all odds, and leads up to a dramatic end where Nie Bao is challenged to demonstrate his love for her in an explosive contest.

Directed by Ping He | Starring : Jing Ning, Gang Wu, Xiaorui Zhao, Yang Gao, Liang Zhao | Presented at Berlin Film Festival, San Sebastian Film Festival, Hawaii Film Festival

北京杂种 | Beijing Bastards

Beijing Bastards

Beijing Bastards is a 1993 drama film by sixth generation director Zhang Yuan, and is one of the first independently produced Chinese films. A rock musician looks for his girl-friend who left while pregnant, trying to decide whether to keep the baby.

Directed by Yuan Zhang | Starring : Jian Cui, Li Wei, Feihong Yu, Lala Wu, Yong Er | Presented at Locarno Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, Munich Film Festival