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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钢的琴 | The Piano in a Factory

The Piano in a Factory

An offbeat ballad of friendship and devotion, The Piano in a Factory captures the tempo of changing times with quiet wisdom and a tinge of nostalgia. Steelworker Chen has a passion for music and plays the accordion in a local band with a close group of friends. When his estranged wife returns one day after years of absence, she demands a divorce and sole custody of their daughter. Chen is at a loss. He doesn’t mind divorcing a woman who has become a stranger, but he can’t bear to part with his daughter. Chen has worked hard to give her a respectable life and has taught her his love of music. When asked if she’d rather stay with her father or go with her mother, the girl gives a practical, devastating answer: she’ll go with whomever can provide her with a piano. Chen cannot afford such a luxury item, but the piano becomes his last hope to save what little is left of his family. With the help of his loyal friends and the support of his lover – the singer in his band – Chen concocts several plans to fulfill his daughter’s wish, from sneaking her into the local music school at night to drawing a fake piano. He even tries to steal the instrument from the school – anything to keep her near him. Nothing works for long, until Chen looks around his fading steel factory town and hits on the perfect solution. The Piano in a Factory is an endearing portrait of a moment when the certainty of state-run industry begins to falter. Simple in its measured and assured direction, The Piano in a Factory establishes Zhang Meng as one of the most vibrant voices in Chinese cinema today.

Directed by Zhang Meng | Starring : Qianyuan Wang, Shin-yeong Jang, Hailu Qin, Yongzhen Guo, Er-yang Luo | Presented at Toronto Film Festival, Tokyo Film Festival, Cinemanila Film Festival, Dubai Film Festival, Rotterdam Film Festival, Glasgow Film Festival, Miami Film Festival, San Francisco Film Festival, Wisconsin Film Festival, Melbourne Film Festival, Hamburg Film Festival, Thessaloniki 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

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

绿茶 | Green Tea

Green Tea

Wu Fang, a bookish graduate student, goes on blind dates, engaging in conversation while sipping on her signature drink: green tea. She claims she does this to find a suitable husband, but her dates seem to be more of a time killer than anything else. She frequently ditches her blind dates halfway, and spends most of her date time relating the tale of her friend’s parents. Chen Mingliang is a fast talking rascal who, after a blind date, manages to break through her reserve. Soon Mingliang encounters sultry lounge pianist Lang Lang, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Wu Fang.

Directed by Yuan Zhang | Starring : Wei Zhao, Wen Jiang, Lijun Fang, Haizhen Wang, Yuan Zhang | Presented at Hamburg Film Festival