麦田 | Wheat

Wheat

In the Kingdom of Zhao, all the men have left for war and Lady Li (Fan Bingbing), wife of the absent lord, says victory will soon bring their men back home. When two enemy deserters invade the kingdom they pretend to be Zhao soldiers and improvise a tale for Lady Li describing Zhao’s victory. Word of the supposed victory spreads rapidly throughout the town, causing misplaced optimism among the women until the truth is revealed and despair and horror emerge.

Directed by Ping He | Starring : Bingbing Fan, Zhiwen Wang, Jue Huang, Jiayi Du, Xueqi Wang | Presented at Shanghai Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, Ghent Film Festival, Tokyo Film Festival

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天地英雄 | Warriors of Heaven and Earth

Warriors of Heaven and Earth

North of the vast 8th century Tang dynasty Chinese empire, the commercially and culturally priceless silk route is controlled by 36 friendly Buddhist kingdoms. Their are threatened by Turkic nomad tribes, the caravans also by brigand bands. Japanese scholar Lai Qimay not return home until the emperor is satisfied with his missions to retrieve refugees from the barren border lands. The last is competent imperial lieutenant Li, who was proscribed for refusing to execute Turkic prisoners. He now lives among fellow warriors for hire as caravan escorts. Lai Qi and Li reach a gentleman’s agreement to postpone their lethal duel till after the safe arrival of a caravan including a young Buddhist monk and his mysterious freight. When Turkic warlord Khan’s daughter’s hand seals an alliance with brigand sword master An, the only way out is trough the grimly dry Gobi desert.

Directed by Ping He | Starring : Wen Jiang, Kiichi Nakai, Xueqi Wang, Wei Zhao, Bagen Hasi | Presented at Tokyo Film Festival, Melbourne Film Festival, Oslo Film Festival

炮打双灯 | Red Firecracker, Green Firecracker

Red Firecracker

Nie Bao played by Wu Gang is a poor painter who finds work in the house of the Cai family, whose wealth is built on the making of firecrackers. On her parents’ demise, Chun Zhi, the daughter, takes over the business. Raised as a man to effectively run the family business, Chun Zhi falls in love with Nie Bao, and faces for the first time, new sexual desires within her. However, their love is against all odds, and leads up to a dramatic end where Nie Bao is challenged to demonstrate his love for her in an explosive contest.

Directed by Ping He | Starring : Jing Ning, Gang Wu, Xiaorui Zhao, Yang Gao, Liang Zhao | Presented at Berlin Film Festival, San Sebastian Film Festival, Hawaii Film Festival

双旗镇刀客 | The Swordsman in Double Flag Town

The Swordsman in Double Flag Town

Wuxia film production stopped on the Chinese mainland after 1949. In the wuxia blockbusters, made again on the mainland post-2000 (of which Zhang Yimou’s Hero is most well-known), there’s often an emphasis on heroes compromising with the authorities, traditional chivalry having disappeared without a trace. The Swordsman in Double Flag Town stands unique among mainland wuxia films, and it is certainly no coincidence that it was produced right after the Tiananmen crackdown. The vast, desert quality of the landscape has more than a little of the American Western about it, and the dangerous duels in which a single stroke decides which participant will live or die brings to mind the atmosphere of a Japanese samurai film. The unique characters and minimal dialogue accompanying these suggest the cinematic style favoured by the Fifth Generation directors, while retaining the suspense and the drama of the wuxia genre.

Directed by Ping He | Starring : Wei Gao, Mana Zhao, Jiang Chang, Haiying Sun, Gang Wang | Presented at Berlin Film Festival, Rotterdam Film Festival