山楂树之恋 | Under the Hawthorn Tree

Under the Hawthorne Tree

The People’s Republic of China during the Cultural Revolution. Jing, a college student from town, is sent to a remote mountain village for ‘reeducation’. Jing is the personification of innocence. But her father has been put behind bars for being a ‘counter-revolutionary’ and so now Jing’s mother must try to support her three children on her own. Jing knows that not only her own future but that of her family now depends on how the authorities judge her efforts to be ‘reeducated’. Jing’s careful and inconspicuous behaviour comes to an end, however, when she falls in love with Sun, the engaging son of a high ranking officer. Given their completely different backgrounds, their love is not only hopeless, it is also dangerous. But their mutual attraction proves to be stronger than any of these obstacles. At first Jing resists Sun’s advances, but he refuses to give up, even when she returns to town. Before long, the two young people are passionately – but secretly – in love. Nobody must find out – least of all Jing’s mother, who already fears for her daughter’s future. But then Sun suddenly disappears, and when he reappears, something about him has changed. Jing has to rethink her perception of love, honour and loyalty. And stand up for her real beliefs.

Directed by Yimou Zhang | Starring : Dongyu Zhou, Shawn Dou, Meijuan Xi, Xuejian Li, Taisheng Chen | Presented at Pusan Film Festival, Berlin Film Festival, Melbourne Film Festival, Rio de Janeiro Film Festival, Valladolid Film Festival, Tateshina Kogen Film Festival

百合 | Lost

Lost

Shenzhen, China, the present day. Nineteen-year-old Wang Baihe is a migrant worker from a village in Shaanxi province. She has a baby son from a one-night stand with a man from Hong Kong and a small income from making Chinese decorative knots at home. Her dream is to open a noodle restaurant and “make lots of money and become a city person” but she finds it difficult to find regular employment because of her baby boy. Her story emerges through interviews with journalist Liu Nan, who is writing a book about her. When Baihe discovers her son has congenital heart disease, she tries desperate ways to raise the RMB80,000 (US$12,000) for the operation, helped by her friend and fellow migrant worker Hu Jinling.

Directed by Xiaowen Zhou | Starring : Zitong Wang, Liping Lü, Yaqi Zhao, Ziheng Wang, Wei Chen | Presented at N/A

二十四城记 | 24 City

24 City

A masterful film from Jia Zhang-ke, the renowned director chronicles the dramatic closing of a once-prosperous state-owned aeronautics factory in Chengdu, a city in Southwest China, and its conversion into a sprawling luxury apartment complex. Bursting with poetry, pop songs and striking visual detail, the film weaves together unforgettable stories from three generations of workers – some real, some played by actors – into a vivid portrait of the human struggle behind China’s economic miracle.

Directed by Zhang Ke Jia | Starring : Tao Zhao, Joan Chen, Jianbin Chen, Liping Lü | Presented at Cannes Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, New York Film Festival, Sao Paulo Film Festival, Chicago Film Festival, London Film Festival, Mar del Plata Film Festival, Torino Film Festival, Rotterdam Film Festival, Glasgow Film Festival, Cleveland Film Festival, Wisconsin Film Festival, Hong Kong Film Festival, Rio de Janeiro Film Festival, St. Louis Film Festival

假装没感觉 | Shanghai Women

Shanghai Women

After Women’s Story, Peng returns to the most straightforward representation of women’s issues in Shanghai Women, a film about three rural women. As the first work in Peng’s Shanghai Trilogy, Shanghai Women describes the problem that women encounter trying to secure urban (residential) space through the story of women from three generations: a grandmother, mother and a daughter, Ah-xia. Fed up with her philandering husband, the mother decides to divorce and moves with Ah-xia to grandmother’s. The grandmother lives with her son, with his wedding on the horizon. Grandmother’s becomes too cramped for comfort because of the larger family. To secure their place, mother accepts a reluctant marriage arranged by the grandmother, with Li, who lives with his son. Li is nitpicking, stingy, and even violent and finally the mother and Ah-xia leave the place together. The mother considers a remarriage with her ex-husband but Ah-xia encourages her mother to make their own future together and find their own place. The film reveals the realities of an urban divorced woman and her insecure life if she leaves her husband’s house in a scene where mother and daughter ceaselessly wander about creek-side areas in Shanghai.

Directed by Xiaolian Peng | Starring : Liping Lü, Haiying Sun, Zhenyao Zheng, Wenqian Zhou, Jing-ming Shi | Presented at Cairo Film Festival, Nantes Film Festival

西洋镜 | Shadow Magic

Shadow Magic

Director Ann Hu’s arthouse drama tells the story of Raymond, an itinerant Englishman who is the first to bring motion pictures to China. While conservatives frown upon the Western invention, the images are a marvel to peasants and royalty alike. Raymond’s hand-cranked projector casts images that all at once threaten and amaze the Chinese audience, many of whom have a difficult time reconciling technology and tradition.

Directed by Ann Hu | Starring : Yu Xia, Jared Harris, Peiqi Liu, Liping Lü, Yufei Xing | Presented at Toronto Film Festival, Tokyo Film Festival

漂亮妈妈 | Breaking the Silence

Breaking the Silence

Internationally-renowned actress Gong Li gives a wondrous performance in Breaking the Silence, an emotional drama from director Sun Zhou. Gong Li plays Sun Liying, a stubborn, independent woman struggling with her assigned lot in life. A single mother, she works to raise and educate her deaf son Zheng Da (Gao Xin) without support from her uncaring ex-husband (Guan Yue). Despite living beneath the indifferent shadow of modern Chinese society, Sun Liying gives her all to provide for her child, and her effort proves stirring and dramatic. Sun Zhou gives Breaking the Silence a semi-documentary feel, and humanizes his Chinese lower class subjects without canonizing them. Sun Liying is portrayed as simply a caring, loving mother who wishes the best for her child, and cares little for the politics or social issues of larger China. A refreshingly human film, Breaking the Silence is another milestone performance from Gong Li, whose powerful work earned accolades at film festivals worldwide.

Directed by Zhou Sun | Starring : Li Gong, Xin Gao, Liping Lü, Jing-ming Shi, Yue Guan | Presented at Berlin Film Festival, Montreal Film Festival, Hawaii Film Festival

天上人间 | Love Will Tear Us Apart

Love Will Tear Us Apart1

Ah Ying is a provincial prostitute from mainland China. With a short-term visa, she hopes to start a new life in Hong Kong. She hooks up with other immigrants: a woman who can no longer work as a dance instructor since she lost a leg, a porn enthusiast and an introvert addicted to hookers. Entrapped in dingy brothels, cramped lifts and karaoke, these new generation nomads are united in a common struggle. But the battle between homeland attachment and their new lives will tear them apart.

Directed by Nelson Yu Lik-wai | Starring : Tony Leung Ka Fai, Liping Lü, Ning Wang, Rolf Chow | Presented at Cannes Film Festival, Vancouver Film Festival, Chicago Film Festival, Pusan Film Festival, Stockholm Film Festival, Rotterdam Film Festival, Fribourg Film Festival, Singapore Film Festival, Hong Kong Film Festival