万有引力 | The Law of Attraction

The Law of Attraction

Four short exposé on love and attraction of the sexes in the big city: a business traveler is delayed due to the malfunction of the airport’s security device, but unexpectedly it sparks off a romance between him and the security officer; a couple’s marriage is in crisis when the repeated attempt to have a child fails; a traffic accident is in reality a trap set by a jealous husband for punishing his unfaithful wife; and a pair of young junkies trying to start anew.

Directed by Tianyu Zhao | Starring : Karen Mok, Jingchu Zhang, Tao Guo, Leon Dai, Zhang Wen | Presented at Montréal Film Festival

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A面B面 | The Double Life

Double life

Hangzhou, China, the present day. Chen Congming, an associate professor at a medical college who is popular with his students, alarms his superiors with his theory that everyone has the potential to go crazy, and that the dividing line between sanity and insanity is paper-thin. The college principal has Chen committed to a mental asylum. There Chen gets to know an orderly, Liang Haichao, who was recently divorced by his childhood sweetheart Liu Yue, a money-obsessed model now suffering from chronic depression. Liu is now engaged to wealthy Cantonese businessman Xiao Chunlei, who’s made his fortune from health/sex tonics. But when Xiao’s six-year-old daughter by his ex-wife Shao Meili has to go into hospital for an emergency kidney operation which Xiao pays for, Liu becomes further depressed that he’s looking to reconcile with his ex-wife. She has a very public nervous breakdown. Meanwhile, Liang has decided that Liu needs “rescuing” from Xiao, and persuades her to get Xiao committed to the mental asylum by feeding him her anti-depressant pills. In the asylum Chen meets Xiao, whom he realises has been framed, and the pair decide to break out together.

Directed by Ying Ning | Starring : Luoyong Wang, Jingchu Zhang, Daniel Chan Hiu Tong, Wenkang Yuan, Wei Kong | Presented at Shanghai Film Festival

红河 | Red River

Red River

A love story between a middle-aged Chinese man and a Vietnamese girl who became mentally retarded after witnessing her father’s killing. The backdrop is the Red River in Yunnan, next to the China-Vietnam border, where frequent cultural and social exchanges have profoundly impacted people from both sides for generations.

Directed by Jiarui Zhang | Starring : Jingchu Zhang, Nick Cheung, Loletta Lee, Danny Lee, Weijia Sun | Presented at Hawaii Film Festival

天水围的夜与雾 | Night and Fog

Night and Fog

Ann Hui’s darkly realistic Night and Fog starts at the end of the story: a man murders his wife and, based on statements by unreliable witnesses, the film goes on to investigate how things could have got this far and what kind of man was able to kill his family; questions that almost inevitably remain unanswered. Night and Fog, named after Nuit et brouillard (1955), Alain Resnais’ documentary about concentration camps, looks at the difficult problem of domestic violence. An elderly man from Hong Kong takes a wife from outside the city and goes on to neglect and abuse the woman. Ann Hui’s cool registering camera is juxtaposed with flashbacks within flashbacks and dream sequences, just as in her earlier film, Song of the Exile.

Directed by Ann Hui | Starring : Jingchu Zhang, Simon Yam, Wai Keung Law, Amy Chum, Kenneth Cheung | Presented at Hong Kong Film Festival, Vancouver Film Festival, Pusan Film Festival, Tokyo Film Festival, Göteborg Film Festival, Rotterdam Film Festival, Transilvania Film Festival

芳香之旅 | The Road

The Road

Aboard a bus in the rural mountains of China, a naïve young girl name Li Chunfen attends to passengers’ needs, all the while speaking of the virtues of the Communist Party. The always loyal Li is happy to serve the driver, Old Cui, a kind of father figure to her who also acts as the consoling voice of the party. When she develops an acute case of puppy love for a frequent passenger — an emotion that leads to a chased kiss and a rape report, she learns all too well that her party and driver might not always have her best interests in mind. But how big of hand will the Cultural Revolution play in Li’s life? How much control will she have over her own fate? Spanning five decades of Li’s life, The Road is a coming-of-age tale of epic proportions. Heartbreakingly beautiful — the countryside cinematography is jaw-dropping — and tragically timely, the film stands out as a masterful work from a powerful new Chinese voice, director Zhang Jiarui, reminding us of a painful history and warning us never to repeat it.

Directed by Jiarui Zhang | Starring : Jingchu Zhang, Wei Fan, Yuan Nie, Lu Huang, Xiaomei Jiang | Presented at Thessaloniki Film Festival, Cairo Film Festival

花腰新娘 | Huayao Bride In Shangri-la

Huayao Bride In Shangri-la

A-long comes from a long line of dragon dancers and is driven to prove his own worth. A pride to their town of Longphozai, his family has always observed cultural traditions and respected the village leaders—unlike A-long’s childhood sweetheart Fengmei. Wilful and rebellious, Fengmei is determined to be with A-long even if it means flouting the Huayao tradition by joining A-long’s dragon dance team. Her impulsive charisma drives the team into numerous fixes and repeatedly brings the wrath of the village elder down upon a frustrated, confused A-long. But with a major dragon dance competition approaching, can A-long and Fengmei learn to balance their love with their cultural traditions? Or will they be forced to sacrifice one for the other? This lighthearted comedy deftly intertwines traditional Huayao song, dress and dance to illustrate the role of historical tradition in modern young love, and shot with brilliant scenery of China’s countryside.

Directed by Jiarui Zhang | Starring : Jingchu Zhang, Xiaotian Yin, Zheming Cui, Yilin Wang, Jiayi Zhao | Presented at N/A

孔雀 | Peacock

Peacock

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