旅程 | Passages

Passages

A boy and a girl having failed their university exam try to take another path in life by believing in miraculous solutions in the big city. With their parents’ money meant for buying books, they set off for a long journey to seek fortune.

Directed by Yang Chao | Starring : Geng Le, Jieping Chang, Haofeng Xu | Presented at Cannes Film Festival, La Rochelle Film Festival, Karlovy Vary Film Festival, Bratislava Film Festival, Alès Film Festival

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开往春天的地铁 | Spring Subway

Spring Subway

Director Zhang Yibai makes an impressive debut with Spring Subway, a stylish urban romance about the silent suffering of a modern Chinese couple. Geng Le is Jianbin, a recently unemployed Beijing urbanite whose marriage to designer Xiaohui is hitting a difficult patch after nearly seven years of matrimony. Xiaohui finds friendship – and possibly more – with a customer, while Jianbin keeps up appearances by going to work every morning and riding the Beijing subway all day. On the subway, life continues for him, as he views various couples falling in and out of love. He even becomes emotionally involved with a schoolteacher, and slowly the wall of silence between the married couple becomes ever more impenetrable. Zhang Yibai finds rich territory for exploration among these emotionally-stilted modern Chinese, who might be able to make their lives work if only they could communicate. Shot with stylish, enthralling cinematic panache, Spring Subway is an offbeat and stunning work from an important new voice in Chinese cinema.

Directed by Yibai Zhang | Starring : Geng Le, Jinglei Xu, Yuanyuan Gao, Yang Zhang, Lan Ke | Presented at Cannes Film Festival, Thessaloniki Film Festival

头发乱了 | Dirt

Dirt

Four childhood friends are reunited in Beijing when one of them returns to live there while studying nursing. Ye Tong, who relishes the idea of returning here to touch the past, narrates this tale of lives that intertwine again. In childhood, they had played in the alleyway of their connected homes; as adults, the alley is a place of danger and threats. Director Guan Hu uses this story to herald the emergence of a new generation of filmmakers in China. Dirt uses the rising rock music scene in Beijing to depict the Sixth Generation movement that arose after the Tiananmen Square protest of 1989. As the film’s story unfolds, Tong’s life gets complicated as she finds herself attracted to one of her childhood friends, Wei, a local rock band leader. His long, flowing black hair and his lean, muscular body are seductive, and Tong falls for him and his music. Wei lets her play in the band, distracting her from her nursing studies and from the other childhood friends. Tragic realities unfold for these Beijing friends and seal their fate and future.

Directed by Hu Guan | Starring : Lin Kong, Xie Kun, Geng Le, Jia-yi Zhang, Jiali Ding | Presented at N/A

阳光灿烂的日子 | In the Heat of the Sun

In the Heat of the Sun

“Change has wiped out my memories. I can’t tell what’s imagined from what’s real” One central obsession, time, preoccupies all of the greatest Chinese language films of the ‘90s. Each of these films in some way makes the most radical demands on our experience of temporality, exposes the ideological underpinnings of our preconceptions about time, and insists on a vision of breathtaking, liberating alternatives. Although it played in a few film festivals, In the Heat of the Sun remains largely unknown outside of China. Jiang Wen and writer Wang Shuo (the cynical “bad boy” of new Chinese literature) collaborated on this 1994 feature about coming-of-age in 1970s Beijing. A cast made up largely of young teenagers portrays what it might have been like to be young, privileged, and completely unfettered in a Beijing largely depopulated of adult authority figures by Mao’s Cultural Revolution. The film’s politics, though, are implied — mere shadows on its margins. Jiang’s camera, wandering at will through space, and tracking and backtracking through time, embodies an absolute freedom just out of reach of the film’s principals. Ostensibly a nostalgia film about the Cultural Revolution’s “good old days”, this film is much more: a self-consciously post-modern, post-“fifth generation” dismantling of the modern Chinese realist film; an ironic, romance-drenched interrogation of the possibility of eros and passion in a totalitarian era; and a meditation on the traps and opportunities afforded by creative mis-remembering.

Directed by Wen Jiang | Starring : Yu Xia, Wen Jiang, Geng Le, Jing Ning, Xueqi Wang | Presented at Venice Film Festival