秦颂 | The Emperor’s Shadow

Emperor's Shadow

The Qin emperor Shih Huang Ti is on his way to conquering the 6 Kingdoms of feudal China and uniting the Middle Kingdom. He recalls childhood friend Gao Qian Li who is the undisputed maestro of the Chinese lute. The emperor asks him to compose a symphony in celebration of his victory in the bloody war to unify China. A man who refuses to bow to the force of tyranny, Gao Qian Li is unwilling to undertake the composition. Frustrated and angered by Gao’s unrelenting disobedience, yet unable and unwilling to kill him for reasons of his obvious talents and their childhood friendship, the tyrant appears to have met his match. Matters take a twisted turn as Gao falls prey to the seduction of the emperor’s crippled daughter, Princess Ping Yang violating her virginity and enraging the Emperor even further. Both Gao and the Princess use each other as pawns, to vent their anger at the cruel Emperor. At her behest, Gao finally composes the song Tribute to Qin. After the premiere performance of the song, Gao suicidally jumps into the river with his flaming lute, drowning his music forever. This is a movie of epic proportions, exploring the twisted relationship between the ruthlessly tyrannical Qin Emperor and his childhood playmate. The sets are impressively stunning as are the performances by both male leads, both emerging from the tutelage of Chinese New Wave meister, Zhang Yi Mou.

Directed by Xiaowen Zhou | Starring : You Ge, Wen Jiang, Qing Xu, Yuan Yuan, Qingxiang Wang | Presented at San Sebastian Film Festival, Vancouver Film Festival, AFI Film Festival

霸王别姬 | Farewell My Concubine

Farewell my Concubine

Farewell My Concubine is a 1993 Chinese film directed by Chen Kaige, is one of the central works of the Fifth Generation movement that brought Chinese film directors to world attention. Similar to other Fifth Generation films like To Live and The Blue Kite, Farewell My Concubine explores the effect of China’s political turmoil during the mid-20th century on the lives of individuals, families, and groups, in this case, two stars in a Peking opera troupe and the woman who comes between them. The film is an adaptation of the novel by Lilian Lee. Lilian Lee is also one of the film’s screenplay writers.

Directed by Kaige Chen | Starring : Leslie Cheung, Fengyi Zhang, Li Gong, You Ge, Wenli Jiang | Presented at Cannes Film Festival, Telluride Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, Chicago Film Festival, Tokyo Film Festival, New York Film Festival

狂 | Ripples Across Stagnant Water

Ripples Across Stagnant Water

With few other real options, when the young village woman in this story is offered an arranged marriage with a kindly but mildly retarded shopkeeper who lives in a nearby town, she readily accepts. Once she has settled into her new home, she becomes involved with her new husband’s patron, a man involved in some underworld trading activities. Eventually, their relationship becomes so heated that the man moves in with her with her husband’s consent. Meanwhile, since it is the 1890s, China is facing all sorts of unrest, from the Boxer Rebellion to ferocious military rivalries. Even her new lover is facing dangerous threats from a business rival.

Directed by Zifeng Ling | Starring : Yong You, Qing Xu, Jun Zhao, Jianguo Yao, Shao-tien Hsiung | Presented at N/A

边走边唱 | Life on a String

Life on a String

A blind master wanders through a mythic landscape of a terrific beauty to play his songs and sing his ballads. His whole life he’s had one hope, one dream of another world: According to a prophecy he shall be able to see, if he has broken 1000 of his banjo strings. His blind disciple, on the contrary, doesn’t want to rely on one hope. He longs for a woman’s love… Does sight await the saint when the 1000th string breaks? Can the disciple’s strength of character overcome provincial prejudice to win the hand of his love and a place in the village?

Directed by Kaige Chen | Starring : Zhongyuan Liu, Lei Huang, Qing Xu, Ling Ma, Erga Yao | Presented at Cannes Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, New York Film Festival, Berlin Film Festival, Istanbul Film Festival