中国姑娘 | UFO in Her Eyes

UFO in her Eyes

Constantly hunting for new ways to express her volcanic dynamism and wealth of ideas, Xiaolu Guo has created a vocabulary of her own, both visual and linguistic, that reflects her sense of being caught between Chinese and English, and her experience growing up during her home country’s wild transition from totalitarian enclave to the new shrine of global capitalism. An “alien” at home and in the global intellectual elite, Guo is an ideal interpreter of the sense of alienation gener­ated by social upheaval and globalization, phenomena for which UFO in Her Eyes is a sophisticated and amusing metaphor. In a remote village in Southern China, under a hundred-year-old camphor tree, Kwok Yun, a thirty-something agricultural worker, copulates with her secret (and married) lover, the local school headmaster. On her way home, she sees a strange stone on the ground. When she picks it up, the world around her turns white, as if illuminated by supernatural light. She faints, and wakes up to find a giant white man with hairy legs who has been bitten by a snake. Yun must have been visited by a UFO. UFO in Her Eyes is surrealist and ironic, but also pierced with melancholy and beau­tiful photography. With startling detail, Guo reshapes reality into a hyper-vivid portrait of chaotic contemporary Chinese society.

Directed by Xiaolu Guo | Starring : Ke Shi, Udo Kier, Mandy Zhang, Li Dou, Zhou Lan | Presented at Toronto Film Festival, Hamburg Film Festival, Ghent Film Festival, Göteborg Film Festival

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纺织姑娘 | Weaving Girl

Weaving Girl

Diagnosed with cancer and unable to afford treatment, a woman decides to leave her unhappy marriage search for her first love in Beijing.

Directed by Quan’an Wang | Starring : Nan Yu, Tao Guo, Zhengwu Cheng, Liv Fuyou, Yongquan Xia | Presented at Montréal Film Festival, Ghent Film Festival, Pusan Film Festival

中国姑娘 | She, a Chinese

She A Chinese

Mei, a young Chinese girl bored with life in her little village, decides to quit for the nearest town, Chongqing. But life there isn’t much easier either; sacked from a clothing factory shortly after starting work, she makes do with a job in a hairdressing salon. There she meets and falls for Spikey, a local mafia’s contract killer. For this brute of a man – who has no qualms about asking her to beat him in the street with a nunchaku – she seems simply another notch on the bedpost. One evening, he comes home covered in blood and dies at her feet. Mei discovers several bundles of banknotes under his mattress, and sets off for London where she has an opportunity to marry Mister Hunt, a man of seventy. In her new husband’s silent home, a new life begins. Will she be satisfied with this monotonous routine? Paced to an original soundtrack by John Parish – working with PJ Harvey and the band Eels – and chaptered in telling titles such as Sometimes you wonder who you really are and Mei feels love under the Big Ben calendar, Xiaolu Guo has made a film in which the challenges Mei must confront do not deter her quest for a more promising future. The filmmaker uses elements of nature – stifling summer heat, a duck bleeding to death, a dog wolfed down by a fox –to express her protagonist’s feelings. Through this journey and the people Mei meets, She, a Chinese conjures the mix of cultures in the early 21st century and how people, lifestyles, consumer goods, and music all cross borders. Although these cross-cultural currents bring about a degree of chaos in Mei’s life, she finds the will to escape isolation, and to follow her desires, come what may.

Directed by Xiaolu Guo | Starring : Lu Huang, Wei Yi Bo, Geoffrey Hutchings, Chris Ryman, Hsinyi Liu | Presented at Locarno Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, Hamburg Film Festival, Ghent Film Festival, Pusan Film Festival, Sao Paulo Film Festival, London Film Festival, Vienna Film Festival, Mar del Plata Film Festival, Göteborg Film Festival, Istanbul Film Festival, Hong Kong Film Festival, Melbourne Film Festival, Rio de Janeiro Film Festival

麦田 | Wheat

Wheat

In the Kingdom of Zhao, all the men have left for war and Lady Li (Fan Bingbing), wife of the absent lord, says victory will soon bring their men back home. When two enemy deserters invade the kingdom they pretend to be Zhao soldiers and improvise a tale for Lady Li describing Zhao’s victory. Word of the supposed victory spreads rapidly throughout the town, causing misplaced optimism among the women until the truth is revealed and despair and horror emerge.

Directed by Ping He | Starring : Bingbing Fan, Zhiwen Wang, Jue Huang, Jiayi Du, Xueqi Wang | Presented at Shanghai Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, Ghent Film Festival, Tokyo Film Festival

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

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

地下的天空 | The Shaft

The Shaft

In a mining town in western China, separately, we follow three members of a family. Each individual family members’ story flows from one to another chronologically, although they do not simply trace the continual development of a single family. There is the daughter who has to choose between her dreams and a suitable husband, the son who is about to start work down the mine, and the father who has just retired. Their lives are inextricably bound together as they symbolically represent the men and women from all mining towns who must accept their thwarted dreams and aspirations, and learn to accept their lot in life.

Directed by Chi Zhang | Starring : Deyuan Luo, Xuan Huang, Luoqian Zheng, Chen Li, Qiya Gong | Presented at Edinburgh Film Festival, Karlovy Vary Film Festival, Hamburg Film Festival, Ghent Film Festival, Marrakech Film Festival, Sao Paulo Film Festival, Torino Film Festival, Palm Springs Film Festival, Seattle Film Festival