阮玲玉 | Center Stage

Center Stage

In the 1930s, in China, there was a woman film-actress who was tagged as “the Chinese Garbo.” She was a wildly popular performer who made her first film at age 16 and died by her own hand at age 25. Ironically, she was famous for playing tragic heroines, and her own life mirrored the kinds of situations she portrayed onscreen. In this biopic, Ruan Ling-yu is riding high in her career when the press decides to take her down a notch or two, bitterly criticizing her for an affair with a married man. This situation is unbearable for her, and she kills herself, but not before uttering the words “Gossip is a terrible thing.” In addition to the central drama, scenes from actual films starring the actress are included, and the actors in this biopic occasionally step out of character to address the camera, recounting some significant fact about the individuals whose lives they are playing, and the nature of those times in China.

Directed by Stanley Kwan | Starring : Maggie Cheung, Tony Leung Ka Fai, Han Chin, Carina Lau, Lawrence Ng | Presented at Berlin Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, Chicago Film Festival, Thessaloniki Film Festival, Adelaide Film Festival, Transilvania Film Festival

没有航标的河流 | River Without Buoys

The River With Buoys

Life is hard for raftsmen Pan Laowu, Shi Gu, and Zhao Liang. During the Cultural Revolution, they seek work where they can, and spend the rest of the time drinking and brawling. At one stop they learn that district leader Xu, an honest man, has been jailed and nearly persecuted to death. With the help of Pan’s former lover they medicate Xu and move him onto their raft, but encounter a ferocious thunderstorm enroute to safety. River Without Buoys marked the beginning of a second career for actor Li Wei, who had begun acting in films in the 1940s, and also put the formerly obscure Xi’an Film Studio on the PRC cinematic map.

Directed by Tian-Ming Wu | Starring : Wei Li, Yuling Tao, Ronghua Hu, Qingming Tang, Hui-fen Chen | Presented at Hawaii Film Festival