Inspired by the notorious case of a young man’s 2008 murder of six Shanghai police officers, the remarkable new film from independent Chinese auteur Ying Liang focuses on the killer’s mother, as she both struggles to comprehend her son’s heinous act and is persecuted by a state that willfully ignores its own laws.
Directed by Liang Ying | Starring : An Nai, Kate Wen, Ming Sun| Presented at Jeonju Film Festival, Locarno Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, Vancouver Film Festival, Warsaw Film Festival, Cinemanila Film Festival, Rotterdam Film Festival
Luo Liang, a young man trying to meet the expectations of family and work, has come to town looking for something better but is unsure of his lot in life. His snobbish wife nags him to get a proper job and learn some skills. He responds by romancing a prostitute. His role as a driver for ruthless property developer Boss Peng soon is ratcheted up to enforcer, as Peng’s ambitions expand. His former mentor, meanwhile, sees his fortunes sink and heads for a tragic end. Following Taking Father Home, and The Other Half, Ying Liang continues to document the effects of fraud, greed and corruption—capitalism —in his home town of Zigong, charting how economic changes have altered the lives of many Chinese today. Ying’s invocation of the three destinies of modern Chinese man—as wanderer, corrupt boss or tragic loser—is enriched through sly wit, excellent work with nonprofessional actors and his insertion of Chinese rock group Lamb’s Funeral into scenes where the band functions as a kind of Greek chorus to the proceedings. As a putative master of the bleak comedy, Ying finds irony in Deng Xiaoping’s ends-justify-means dictum that a cat’s color is irrelevant: It’s good as long as it catches the rat. But just look how the cats unleashed by Deng have turned out.
Directed by Liang Ying | Starring : Liang Luo, Xiaopei Liu, Deming Peng, Qian Wang, Jing Zhu| Presented at Hawaii Film Festival
Xiaofen works as a clerk in a law office in the industrial city of Zigong. Her unending daily routine is to record clients’ claims, complaints and arguments in cases ranging from divorces and spousal abuse to medical malpractice and industrial accidents. Xiaofen’s life has its own crises: her boyfriend, Deng Gang, is released from prison but quickly gives in to the gambling bug that put him there; her mother pressures her into a date with a suitor whose main interest is showing her bland business photos on his laptop computer; and she finally meets her estranged father. All these incidents build to a momentum when Deng Gang is suspected of murder and disappears, and the city is threatened by toxic pollution after an explosion in a chemical plant. In the ensuing evacuation, many people go missing. Uncertain of her future, Xiafen walks down empty streets while a public address system intones the names of the missing. The enigmatic end sequence seems to plead for a reverse of this erosion and loss of community, and suggests that some good may come from all this misfortune. With deadpan humor, deeply felt sensitivity and social commentary, director Ying Liang establishes the authorial voice promised in his short films and first feature, Taking Father Home. Here, he cleverly mixes major and minor crises, personal and political dilemmas, to create a chilling reflection on life today.
Directed by Liang Ying | Starring : Xiaofei Zeng, Gang Deng, Ke Zhao, Xigui Chen, Huibin Liu| Presented at Jeonju Film Festival, Singapore Film Festival, San Francisco Film Festival, Munich Film Festival, Chicago Film Festival, Thessaloniki Film Festival, San Sebastian Film Festival
Traveling with no money and only two ducks as collateral, Xu Yun walks into an urban jungle of gangsters and thieves, throwing his life into danger. He earns the sympathy and support of streetwise hustler Scar and a cynical policeman. Both help Xu Yun find clues to the whereabouts of his father, but their efforts are dashed by a 24-hour flood warning forcing the sudden evacuation of the entire city. Will Xu Yun find his father in time, and if so, will he bring his father back home? Winner of several international festival awards, Taking Father Home is the debut feature of radical independent filmmaker Ying Liang, who borrowed equipment and recruited friends and family to realize his fierce vision of an emotionaly scarred society. The film presents “a side of China that is rarely, if ever, seen on film.
Directed by Liang Ying | Starring : Yun Xu, Xiaopei Liu, Jie Wang, Cijun Song| Presented at Rotterdam Film Festival, Fribourg Film Festival, Hong Kong Film Festival, Singapore Film Festival, San Francisco Film Festival, Chicago Film Festival, London Film Festival, Cleveland Film Festival