最爱 | Til Death Do Us Part

Love for Life

The peacefulness of a rural village has been disrupted by an outbreak of a disease, which the locals call ‘a fever’. Villagers learn very quickly that there is no cure for the disease and refuse to have anything to do with the infected. Lao Zhuzhu is a teacher at the now-abandoned village school and the father of Zhao Qiquan, the blood merchant responsible for causing the outbreak. He decides to make amendments to the villagers on behalf of his unrepentant son by inviting all the infected villagers, including his younger son, Zhao Deyi, to live with him at the village school, where they will look after one another. One day, Shang Qinqin, donning a red jacket, arrives at the school compound to join the small community…

Directed by Changwei Gu | Starring : Ziyi Zhang, Aaron Kwok, Wenli Jiang, Zeru Tao, Cunxin Pu | Presented at Rome Film Festival

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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

狼灾记 | The Warrior and the Wolf

The Warrior and the Wolf

A father figure in contemporary Chinese cinema, controversial avant-garde auteur Tian Zhuang Zhuang is back with a rewarding work of fearless art. A departure from his free-spirited early works and the cautious intimacy of his later films, The Warrior and the Wolf is the captivating adaptation of a short story by the prolific Japanese writer Yasushi Inoue. In the Era of the Warring States, before the unification of China, thousands of soldiers are dispatched to fight the enemy and conquer nomadic tribes. Sent to remote regions at the edges of the known world, the soldiers encounter many adversities, and the brutal challenge of survival often brings out the worst human instincts. But valiant Lu Chenkang belongs to a different breed. He is brave, loyal and extremely skilled in the art of war. Nevertheless, he is kind-hearted and averse to murder. Though he has a pet wolf cub, he keeps his own animal instincts at bay. When his commander and friend, General Zhang Anliang, is badly wounded just before the incipient winter, Lu takes over command of the troops. Forced to find shelter in the village of the mysterious Harran tribe, he discovers a beautiful young woman hiding in his refuge. A widow shunned into solitude, she has a fierce personality and fights Lu in every way she can before surrendering to his passionate embrace, having fallen for him against her better judgement. She seems to possess the strange ability to take his mind to a place where memories collide with dreams and legends – a place where humans were once wolves.

Directed by Zhuangzhuang Tian | Starring : Jô Odagiri, Maggie Q, Chung-Hua Tou, Zhiwen Wang | Presented at Toronto Film Festival, Rome Film Festival, Hawaii Film Festival

立春 | And the Spring Comes

And the Spring Comes

Setting in a northern county of China in late 80s and early 90s of last century, this movie is about a few ordinary people who dreamed to become artists, who are stubborn enough to fight for their dreams, but eventually give in to the mundane life. This is a somehow identical theme appeared in the director’s previous award-winning film “Peacock”. Nevertheless, this is a totally different story. Well written and directed, this is one of the best movies of China of the year. What makes this movie magnificent is that although it’s a sad story, the director was able to add in some delicate and somehow absurd humor, pushing you to the edge of breaking your heart.

Directed by Changwei Gu | Starring : Wenli Jiang, Guangjie Li, Guohua Wu, Xuan Dong, Gang Jiao | Presented at Rome Film Festival

父子 | After This Our Exile

After This Our Exile

the hopeless pursuit of happiness, Aaron Kwok stars as Shing, a man who desperately attempts to hold onto the dwindling threads of his family. Once a man who had a dream, Shing has become a deadbeat gambler whose marriage is failing with wife Lin. Shing’s machoistic ego overrides any reasonable logic for change, which forces Lin to leave Shing repeatedly. After finally managing to escape, Shing is left with nothing but his son, Lok-Yun. Hoping in vain to pay back loansharks, Shing turns to his loving son, Lok-Yun, who has somehow retained his filial loyalty. In his most desperate hour, Shing forces his struggle of survival onto his son, Lok-Yun, through thievery and tests the strength of loyalty and the boundaries of trust in their father-son relationship. With each passing day, the bond of love is threatened with Shing’s unrepentant ways.

Directed by Patrick Tam | Starring : Aaron Kwok, Charlie Yeung, Kelly Lin, King-to Ng, Valen Hsu | Presented at Pusan Film Festival, Rome Film Festival, Tokyo Film Festival, Marrakech Film Festival, San Francisco Film Festival

吴清源 | The Go Master

The Go Master

The latest film from celebrated Fifth Generation director Tian Zhuangzhuang, The Go Master shines a light on the life and times of Wu Qingyuan. Better know by his Japanese name Go Seigen, Wu is considered the greatest Go player of the 20th century, his talents bringing him from his native China to a professional career in Japan when he was only a teenager. Based on Wu’s autobiography, this elegantly shot and remarkably restrained biopic follows the life of a singular figure, fascinating not only for his genius and achievements in the game of Go, but also for his unique experiences as a Chinese man in Japan during an immensely turbulent period in history. With the breakout of the Sino-Japanese War in the 1930s, Wu Qingyuan and his family are thrown into an uncomfortable and dangerous position as Chinese nationals residing in Japan. While Wu’s family returns to China, he chooses to stay behind in his adopted country to continue to pursue the game of Go. In the quiet recluse of his school, there are no politics, only the singular dedication to his art and the love for his wife Kazuko. However, the chaos of the times eventually forces him out of his enclave, throwing his life and mind into conflict. Wu joins a cult in a sober pursuit of faith and his own ongoing battle to come to terms with himself.

Directed by Zhuangzhuang Tian | Starring : Chen Chang, Sylvia Chang, Xuejian Li, Ayumi Ito, Yi Huang | Presented at New York Film Festival, Rome Film Festival, Hong Kong Film Festival, Ankara Film Festival, Shanghai Film Festival, Bangkok Film Festival, Cinemanila Film Festival

千里走单骑 | Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles

Riding Alone

In a village of fishermen in Japan, Takata misses his son Kenichi, to whom he has been estranged for many years. When his daughter-in-law Rie tells him that Kenichi is sick in the hospital, she suggests Takata to come to Tokyo to visit his son in the hospital where he would have the chance to retie the relationship. However, Kenichi refuses to receive his father in his room, and Rie gives a videotape to Takata to know about the work of his son. Once at home, Takata sees a documentary in the remote village Lijiang, in the province of Younnan, about the passion of Kenichi, the Chinese opera, where the lead singer Li Jiamin promises to sing an important folk opera on the next year. When Rie calls Takata to tell that her husband has a terminal liver cancer, Takata decides to travel to Lijiang to shoot Li Jiamin singing the opera to give to Kenichi.

Directed by Yimou Zhang | Starring : Ken Takakura, Shinobu Terajima, Kiichi Nakai, Lin Qiu, Zhenbo Yang | Presented at Tokyo Film Festival, Morelia Film Festival, Rome Film Festival