狄仁杰之通天帝国 | Detective Dee: Mystery of the Phantom Flame

Detective Dee

In 689 A.D., the Empress Wu Zetian is building a 66 m high statue of Buddha for her inauguration as the first empress of China under the objections and conspiracy of the other clans. When the engineer responsible for the construction mysteriously dies by spontaneous combustion, the superstitious workers are afraid since the man removed the good luck charms from the main pillar. There is an investigation of Pei Donglai and another investigator that also dies after withdrawing the amulets. Empress Wu assigns her loyal assistant Shangguan Jing’er to release the exiled Detective Dee from his imprisonment to investigate with Donglai and Jing’er the mystery of the deaths. They ride in a mystic and epic adventure to unravel the mystery.

Directed by Hark Tsui | Starring : Andy Lau, Carina Lau, Bingbing Li, Tony Leung Ka Fai, Chao Deng | Presented at Venice Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, Abu Dhabi Film Festival, Glasgow Film Festival, Tribeca Film Festival, Helsinki Film Festival, Nagaoka Film Festival

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落叶归根 | Getting Home

Getting Home

Zhao is an ageing worker who toils away in Shenzen in order to earn a living. When his friend and colleague Wang suddenly dies, Zhao decides to transport his body back to his native town. He purchases two tickets for the cross-country bus, and pretends that his silent travelling companion has drunk so much alcohol that he has fallen unconscious. Shortly afterwards, the bus is attacked by armed bandits. Zhao asks the bandits to kill him first, so that he can stay with his dead friend forever. Touched by this display of loyalty, the robbers decide to let the bus go. But instead of thanking Zhao, the other passengers throw him and his dead friend off the bus. Pretending that his friend is seriously ill and must be taken to hospital immediately, Zhao tries to flag down passing cars. After spending the night in a hotel, Zhao discovers that all his money has been stolen and begins to lose heart. But he refuses to be browbeaten. Whenever he needs money, he rearranges Wong so that he looks like a beggar. And whenever he is hungry, he joins a funeral party and bawls his eyes out so that he can enjoy the food served at the wake. During his odyssey across China Zhao is obliged to get along with all kinds of people. Just before he reaches his destination, the old man and his dead friend are caught in a torrential downpour, so that now Zhao finds himself engaged in a struggle against nature.

Directed by Yang Zhang | Starring : Benshan Zhao, Dandan Song, Degang Guo, Haiying Sun, Ma Wu | Presented at Berlin Film Festival, Bangkok Film Festival, Cinemanila Film Festival, Vladivostok Film Festival, Vancouver Film Festival, Chicago Film Festival, St. Louis Film Festival, Kerala Film Festival, Wisconsin Film Festival, Edmonton Film Festival

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