白鹿原 | White Deer Plain

White Deer Plain

Wang Quan’an’s epic takes place towards the end of imperial China in a period of dramatic political and social upheaval. The film is set in the eponymous White Deer Village in Shaanxi Province where the two most important families – Bai and Lu – and their sons have always lived together in peace. But the turmoil leads to a fierce struggle for land ownership. A young woman new to the village soon finds herself caught between the two camps. Director Wang Quan’an uses the story of these two families as a metaphor for the fate of the Chinese people as first Chinese war lords are overrun by Japanese invaders, then civil war follows hot on the heels of the Second World War and finally the victorious Maoists begin waving their red flags. White Deer Plain is an adaptation of an historical novel of the same name by Chen Zhongshi which was blacklisted for many years on account of its explicit sex scenes. As in his earlier works Tuya’s Marriage and Apart Together, Wang Quan’an’s new work focuses once again on the fortunes of a female protagonist. Using her beauty as a way of gaining influence and a means of survival, the heroine of his latest film nonetheless manages to remain true to herself and those she loves.

Directed by Quan’an Wang | Starring : Fengyi Zhang, Kitty Zhang Yuqi, Gang Wu, Wei Liu, Taisheng Chen | Presented at Berlin Film Festival, Hong Kong Film Festival, Montréal Film Festival

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

黑血 | Black Blood

Black Blood

Not everything is progress in China. Less and less rain means that the inhabitants of Inner Mongolia have to do everything to survive. For instance, sell their own blood. And in order to sell enough blood, you have to drink. A drama of fate shot in impressively expressive black-and-white. In a remote mountain village in the northwest of China, close to a nuclear test zone, the poverty-stricken Xiaolin sells his blood to pay his daughter’s school fees. Together with his wife Xiaojuan, he tries to set up a business. At first that seems very lucrative, but then fate strikes: it turns out that both Xiaolin and Xiaojuan are infected with HIV. Just like thousands of other poor people, who illegally sell their blood to be able to buy something as essential as water. Black Blood, supported by the Hubert Bals Fund, tells a small and personal story against the background of an ecological disaster. In the valley where the film was shot, there is also in reality no water anymore. ‘Water is more valuable than blood and many villages have already been deserted,’ according to Zhang Miaoyan. Zhang films the poor odd-jobbers for more than two hours in hypnotic black-and-white and – very briefly – in equally stunning colours.

Directed by Miaoyan Zhang | Starring : Mengjuan Liu, Danhui Mao, Yingying | Presented at Rotterdam Film Festival, Kerala Film Festival, Cannes Film Festival, Las Palmas Film Festival, Jeonju Film Festival, Montréal Film Festival, Rome Film Festival, Thessaloniki Film Festival

纺织姑娘 | Weaving Girl

Weaving Girl

Diagnosed with cancer and unable to afford treatment, a woman decides to leave her unhappy marriage search for her first love in Beijing.

Directed by Quan’an Wang | Starring : Nan Yu, Tao Guo, Zhengwu Cheng, Liv Fuyou, Yongquan Xia | Presented at Montréal Film Festival, Ghent Film Festival, Pusan Film Festival

爱情的牙齿 | Teeth of Love

Teeth of Love

Zhuang Yuxin’s drama Teeth of Love follows the life of Qian Yehong during three different eras. The film opens with her as a teenager who breaks the heart of a boy in love with her. The next section finds her working as a physician and carrying on a sexual relationship with a man married to a different woman. The third act finds Qian in an unfulfilling marriage.

Directed by Yuxin Zhuang | Starring : Bingyan Yan, Hongtao Li, Naiwen Li, Jia Chi, Jiaojiao Wu | Presented at Montréal Film Festival, Kerala Film Festival, Fribourg Film Festival

光荣的愤怒 | Trouble Makers

Trouble Makers

Trouble Makers tells the story of four simple men living in Black Well Village (in rural Yunnan province) who decide to finally run the criminal Xiong Brothers out of their homes. The Xiongs have managed to build a criminal “empire” in the small town even managing to elect themselves the mayor and official accountant of Black Well Village. Two other brothers enforce the Xiongs’ will with violence and intimidation. The brothers, known by the political-infused moniker, the Gang of Four, smuggle salt and generally terrorize the villagers of Black Well.

Directed by Baoping Cao | Starring : Gang Wu, Yanhui Wang, Xiaobo Li, Yi Zhu, Qingsan Kong | Presented at Montréal Film Festival

可可西里 | Mountain Patrol

Mountain Patrol

Kekexili is based on actual events. From Mainland China, the film tells the story of Ga Yu, a reporter from Beijing who in 1996 travels to the eponymous region on the border of Tibet, where some local men have organized a civilian patrol to fight the poachers who are decimating the region’s endangered population of Tibetan antelopes, prized for their pelts, which are then exported, to be sold as (once trendy) shahtoosh shawls. As Ga Yu arrives in a remote town, a member of the patrol has recently been coldly executed by the poachers, and the taciturn leader, Ritai, is heading out on another patrol, determined to find those responsible. Ga Yu convinces Ritai to let him tag along by suggesting that a story in a Beijing newspaper might spur the Chinese government to take more forceful action to protect the antelopes. The group leaves on their perilous, high altitude journey. From the film’s opening, with the aforementioned murder, it’s a harrowing trip. Kekexili captures the deprivation and danger of this harsh land, and the necessary ruggedness of the people who live there, with impeccable clarity. Filmmaker Lu tells his story visually, for the most part, with exemplary economy. He doesn’t spend any more time than needed on characterization. He leaves it to his audience to figure out what motivates Ritai and his team to risk their lives in order to protect the animals. Whatever it is, it’s clear that it goes beyond a mere concern for the environment. Ritai ends up completely possessed with finding the gunmen who slaughtered the most recent herd of antelope. He puts his own and many other lives at risk in this pursuit. At the film’s midpoint, Ritai and his men capture a group of poachers, including a kindly old man who tells the patrolmen that he used to be a shepherd, and was pushed into a life of criminality by hard times. The filmmaker doesn’t judge these characters, any more than he does the film’s would-be heroes. It’s clear that on a thematic level, Lu’s primary interest is human, rather than environmental.

Directed by Chuan Lu | Starring : Duobuji, Lei Chang, Liang Qi, Xueying Zhao, Zhanlin Ma | Presented at Tokyo Film Festival, Sundance Film Festival, Berlin Film Festival, Hong Kong Film Festival, Seattle Film Festival, Cinemanila Film Festival, Montréal Film Festival, Vancouver Film Festival, Warsaw Film Festival, Marrakech Film Festival, Kerala Film Festival

婼玛的十七岁 | When Ruoma Was Seventeen

When Ruoma Was Seventeen

This simple, yet engaging film tells the story of 17-year-old Ruoma, a member of the Xjani tribe, who are a racial minority in the Yunnan province of southern China. Ruoma has always lived a quiet, rural life, but dreams of a glamorous, cosmopolitan lifestyle way beyond her financial reach. When a photographer named Ming offers Ruoma the chance to make money as a model, she jumps at the opportunity, even if it is just posing in tribal wear for the amusement of tourists. Ruoma quickly falls in love with Ming and the notion that he may be her ticket out. Without any acting experience, Li Min is nonetheless stunning and natural in her portrayal of Ruoma. Made independently from China’s studio system, this film takes a subtle, yet compelling look at Xjani culture. An official Selection of 2004’s Philadelphia Film Festival, When Ruoma Was Seventeen is a fresh coming-of-age story from director Zhang Jiarue that features an interesting subject, and nuanced performances.

Directed by Jiarui Zhang | Starring : Li Min, Zhigang Yang, Shu Linyuan | Presented at Pusan Film Festival, Berlin Film Festival, Montréal Film Festival, San Jose Film Festival, Philadelphia Film Festival, Flanders Film Festival

嘎达梅林 | Gada Meilin

Gada Meilin

A larger-than-life hero, spectacular cinematography and a story originating from a famous Mongolian epic tale, Gada Meilin is the story of a reluctant leader who guides his people to victory against a tyrannical government who wants to steal their land. Highlighting the beautiful scenery of the Mongolian prairie, native music performed by Mongolian superstar Tang Ga-al plus the fascinating local customs and uninhibited character of the Mongolian people, Gada Meilin portrays the unforgettable symphonic poem of heroes.

Directed by Xiaoning Feng | Starring : Ebusi, Xiaowei Liu, Xiaoguang Hu, Deligeer, Ming Li | Presented at Montréal Film Festival

生活秀 | Life Show

Life Show

With the aftermath of China’s Cultural Revolution as its backdrop, this drama showcases the resilience of a 30-something woman as she tries to pick up the pieces of her family’s life. After her mother’s death, Shuang Yang raises her brother, only to witness him fall into drug addiction, all as she runs a struggling restaurant in Chongqing. She lives day to day until a regular customer asks her out, igniting a spark of love, and hope.

Directed by Jianqi Huo | Starring : Höng Tao, Zeru Tao, Yueming Pan, Yang Yi, Deyuan Luo | Presented at Shanghai Film FestivalMontréal Film Festival, Sundance Film Festival, Tokyo Film Festival, Thessaloniki Film Festival

巴尔扎克与小裁缝 | Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress


In 1971 China, in the lingering grip of the cultural revolution, two university students, Luo and Ma, are sent to a mountain mining village as part of their reeducation duty to purge them of their classical western oriented education. Amid the backbreaking work and stifling ignorance of the community, the two boys find that music, and the presence of the beautiful local young women are the only pleasant things in their miserable life. However, none compare to the young seamstress granddaughter of the local tailor. Stealing a departing student’s secret cache of forbidden books of classic western literature such as the works of Honore de Balzac, they set about to woo her and teach her things she had never imagined. In doing so, they start a journey that would profoundly change her perspective on her world and teach the boys about the power of literature and their own ability to change their world in truly revolutionary ways.

Directed by Sijie Dai | Starring : Xun Zhou, Ye Liu, Kun Chen, Zhijun Cong, Hongwei Wang | Presented at Cannes Film Festival, Montréal Film Festival, Marrakech Film Festival, Chicago Film Festival, Ghent Film Festival, AFI Film Festival, Palm Springs Film Festival, Göteborg Film Festival, Istanbul Film Festival, Moscow Film Festival, Auckland Film Festival, Copenhagen Film Festival, Milwaukee Film Festival

安阳婴儿 | The Orphan of Anyang

Orphan of Anyang

A prostitute from the Northeast, desperate and unable to make ends meet, abandons her baby. An unemployed factory worker decides to take the child for the 200 yuan a month in child support promised by its mother. His early attempts at child-rearing are somewhat painful to watch, but also charming and amusing. Eventually, he and the mother become friendly and it seems that the child will be raised in a sweetly unorthodox family. However, when the woman’s pimp, a local gangster, not only finds out that he may have fathered the child, but also that he is dying of cancer, he decides that he must adopt the baby – and is willing to resort to violence if necessary.

Directed by Chao Wang | Starring : Tianhao Liu, Fuwen Miao, Guilin Sun, Sengyi Yue, Jie Zhu | Presented at Cannes Film Festival, Montréal Film Festival, Telluride Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, Vancouver Film Festival, Chicago Film Festival, Valladolid Film Festival, Amiens Film Festival, Entrevues Film Festival, Tromso Film Festival, Rotterdam Film Festival, Kerala Film Festival, Buenos Aires Film Festival, Jeonju Film Festival, Karlovy Vary Film Festival, Athens Film Festival, Warsaw Film Festival

你那边几点 | What Time Is It Over There?

What Time is it There

From acclaimed director Tsai Ming-Liang comes the quirky story of Hsiao Kang who sell watches in the street of Taipei for a living. A few Days after his father’s Death, he meet Shiang-Chyi, a young woman who leave for Paris the very next day. She persuades him to sell her his own watch, which has two dials, so that she can keep taipei time as well as local time, on her upcoming trip.Troubled y the behavior of this mother who prays constantly for the return of her late husband’s spirit, Hsiao Kang Take refuge in the memory of his brief encounter with Shiang-Chyi, In an effort to bridge the miles between them, he run around setting all the watches and clock in Taipei to Paris time. Meanwhile, in Paris, Shiang-Chyi confronts events that seem to be mysteriously connected with Hsiao Kang.

Directed by Ming-liang Tsai | Starring : Kang-sheng Lee, Shiang-chyi Chen, Yi-Ching Lu, Tien Miao, Cecilia Yip | Presented at Cannes Film Festival, Karlovy Vary Film Festival, Jerusalem Film Festival, Brisbane Film Festival, Edinburgh Film Festival, Montreal Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, New York Film Festival, Vancouver Film Festival, Chicago Film Festival, Jakarta Film Festival, Tokyo Film Festival, AFI Film Festival, Pusan Film Festival, Thessaloniki Film Festival, Bangkok Film Festival, Hong Kong Film Festival, Buenos Aires Film Festival, Singapore Film Festival, Cinemanila Film Festival, Febio Film Festival

蓝色爱情 | A Love of Blueness

A Love of Blueness2

Rookie policeman Tai Lin yearned to be an artist before he failed an examination and followed in his father’s footsteps. One day he interrupts an apparent suicide attempt by a woman standing on the edge of a bridge. He detains her when she claims to have murdered her husband, despite her protests that it’s all a joke. It turns out that Liu Yun is a performance artist, but Tai Lin is not amused and is glad to be rid of her when she is released.

Directed by Jianqi Huo | Starring : Yueming Pan, Rujun Ten, Quan Yuan, Gang Wang, Yong Dong | Presented at Montréal Film Festival, Cairo 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

那山、那人、那狗 | Postmen in the Mountains

Postmen in the Mountains

An old postman has spent his whole life delivering mail to the mountain of Hunan and is about to retire. His only son is due to take over his duties. As father and son journey through the mountains, the son begins to appreciate the toil and burden his father has to bear as postman for the villagers, and the old postman is also deeply moved as his son relates his mother’s anxiety as she waits for him to return home from every trip.

Directed by Jianqi Huo | Starring : Ye Liu, Rujun Ten, Hao Chen, Hao Dang, Yeheng Gong | Presented at Montréal Film Festival

扁担.姑娘 | So Close to Paradise

So Close To Paradise

From one of China’s most talented and controversial young filmmakers comes this striking gangster noir which was banned for 3 years by the Chinese government. Reminiscent of Hollywood’s classic B movies from the 1940’s and 50’s, the film tells the story of two country boys, Gao Ping and Dong Zi, who move to the big city to carve out new lives for themselves. While Dong Zi is content with his menial job hauling boxes around the docks, Gao Ping quickly enters a maze of gangsters, crime, and underworld alliances. When Gao Ping kidnaps and then falls in love with Ruan Hong, a beautiful, seductive nightclub singer, his fate is sealed.

Directed by Xiaoshuai Wang | Starring : Shi Yu, Tao Guo, Tong Wang, Tao Wu | Presented at Cannes Film Festival, Auckland Film Festival, Montréal Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, Vancouver Film Festival, Göteborg Film Festival, Singapore Film Festival

背起爸爸上学 | Going to School with Father on My Back

Going To School With Dad on My Back

Shiwa, the son of a poor Chinese farmer, is doing well at school. But when his mother dies and his sister leaves the house, he’s the only one left to take care of his disabled father.

Directed by Youchao Zhou | Starring : Qiang Zhao, Jiang Hualin, Danchen Yan, Xiaotong Zhang, Enran Ma | Presented at Montréal Film Festival

征婚启事 | The Personals

The Personals

This deceptively modest work from director Chen Kuo-fu proceeds from a typical romcom premise but detours into darker and more emotionally resonant territory. Tu Chia-chen, a successful but unfulfilled ophthalmologist, takes out a personal ad seeking potential marriage partners. The variously unsuitable respondents provide Tu with a growing voyeuristic thrill, but she eventually develops a genuine romantic interest in a sensitive ex-con. Consisting largely of two-person conversations in a repeated locations,  reflecting its origins as a stage play, The Personals still allows Chen Kuo-fu some spirited visual flourishes, anchored by Liu’s Golden Horse Award-winning performance.

Directed by Kuo-fu Chen | Starring : Rene Liu, Chao-jung Chen, Wu Bai, Shih-Chieh Chin, Bao-ming Gu | Presented at Cannes Film Festival, Montréal Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, Chicago Film Festival

春光乍泄 | Happy Together

Happy Together

Lai Yiu-Fai and Ho Po-Wing where in love when they arrived in Argentina from Hong-Kong. But something went wrong while they were driving south in search for adventures. One day, on the road, Ho Po-Wing walked away from his lover. Now, Lai works as doorman at a tango bar in Buenos Aires. He is trying to save enough for his air-ticket home. When Ho re-enters his life, bruised and bleeding from a beating, he gives him a bed but refuses to get back into a sexual relationship. Domesticity doesn’t suits Ho, who is soon spending nights out on the town. Lai quits his job and starts working in the kitchen of a Chinese restaurant, where he befriends Zhang, a kid from Taiwan. Without realising it, Lai’s life begins to take changes. Meanwhile Ho continues to fall into pieces…

Directed by Kar Wai Wong | Starring : Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Leslie Cheung, Chen Chang, Gregory Dayton, Shirley Kwan | Presented at Cannes Film Festival, Melbourne Film Festival, Montréal Film Festival, New York Film Festival, Arizona Film Festival, Singapore Film Festival, Reykjavik Film Festival, Hong Kong Film Festival

黑骏马 | A Mongolian Tale

A Mongolian Tale

Bayinbulag and Somiya are brought up, from a young age, as brother and sister by their adoptive grandmother. The three live happily in a yurt on the Mongolian steppes. Just before Bayinbulag is to leave for the city, to be trained as a vet, the grandmother suggests that Bayinbulag and Somiya should eventually marry. Bayinbulag, now training to be a musician, stays away for long periods of time without communicating with Somiya. He finally comes back expecting to marry her.

Directed by Fei Xie | Starring : Renhua Na, Tengger, Dalarsurong, Aojirdai, Ganghulag | Presented at Montréal Film Festival

大阅兵 | The Big Parade

The Big Parade

For eight months in 1985, 10,000 Chinese men and women underwent a grueling training program to prepare for a parade celebrating the 35th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic. The drilling was harsh and unsparing: The rookies were required to maintain formation for three hours in the sun, to march in torrential rain, to stand at attention on one foot. Chen Kaige, a member of the noted Fifth Generation of young Chinese filmmakers, won acclaim throughout the world for Yellow Earth. But some of his supporters took him to task for The Big Parade, which they saw as glorifying the martial spirit. The film, however, evidently failed to please the authorities too; it was shelved for two years and a new, presumably more positive ending, was required. Chen says that his motive was neither to extol nor to criticize military virtues. “To put it simply, our primary concern is the relationship and the problems that arise between individuals and the group, personality and communal spirit, man and his environment, in a constantly changing world. What we studied is not what the big parade achieved, but the social psychology that surfaced in the training program.”

Directed by Kaige Chen | Starring : Xueqi Wang, Chun Sun, Li Tung, Lu Lei, Qiang Guan | Presented at Montréal Film Festival, Torino Film Festival, Chicago Film Festival

边城 | Border Town

Border Town

Cuicui is raised by her 70-year-old grandfather. 17 years ago, Her mother was pregnant before marriage and she committed suicide after giving birth to Cuicui by drinking cold water in the river. When Cuicui grows up, her grandfather begins to worry about her marriage, because he doesn’t want Cuicui to have the miserable life like her mother. There is a rich man in the border town, who has two handsome sons that both fell in love with Cuicui. Cuicui likes the younger son while her grandfather misunderstands her feeling and he thinks the older son is more suitable for Cuicui. Unfortunately, the older son dies in a accident and the rich man pins the blame on Cuicui’s grandfather. While the younger son loves Cuicui so much, he can’t marry her after the death of his dear brother. Finally, he chooses to leave the town. Cuicui’s grandfather dies at a cold, raining night, living Cuicui alone in the world. However, grief doesn’t break her down. She takes over her grandfather’s work, waiting for the younger son to come back.

Directed by Zifeng Ling | Starring : Hanyuan Feng, Feng Jin, Hanpu Liu, Feng Chin, Lui Sek | Presented at Montréal Film Festival