记忆望着我 | Memories Look at Me

Memories Look at Me

Song Fang is the protagonist in her own soberly filmed docudrama, in which she returns from Beijing to the house of her parents in Nanjing. The film is largely set indoors, where Song shares everyday life and many memories with her parents, sister-in-law, brother and niece. Song is always on screen as they talk about relatives living and dead, about more or less successful careers, about old friends, illnesses and accidents, funerals and weddings. A young niece, Diandian, makes disarming comments that provide a lighter note. Between the conversations – that often take place around food – and rare excursions, we catch a glimpse of changing Chinese society. It is obvious that the norms and values of the older generation are being devalued, but that some deep-rooted traditions will probably continue for a very long time.

Directed by Fang Song | Starring : Yu-zhu Ye, Di-jing Song, Fang Song, Song Yuan | Presented at Locarno Film Festival, Vancouver Film Festival, New York Film Festival, Mar del Plata Film Festival, Entrevues Film Festival, Rotterdam Film Festival, Portland Film Festival, San Francisco Film Festival

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我还有话要说 | When Night Falls

When Night Falls

Inspired by the notorious case of a young man’s 2008 murder of six Shanghai police officers, the remarkable new film from independent Chinese auteur Ying Liang focuses on the killer’s mother, as she both struggles to comprehend her son’s heinous act and is persecuted by a state that willfully ignores its own laws.

Directed by Liang Ying | Starring : An Nai, Kate Wen, Ming Sun | Presented at Jeonju Film Festival, Locarno Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, Vancouver Film Festival, Warsaw Film Festival, Cinemanila Film Festival, Rotterdam Film Festival

我十一 | 11 Flowers

11 Flowers

One of China’s foremost Sixth Generation directors, Wang Xiaoshuai (Beijing Bicycle, Shanghai Dreams) tells a striking, autobiographical coming-of-age tale set in the final days of China’s Cultural Revolution. Eleven-year-old Wang Han lives with his family in a remote village in Guizhou province. When Wang is selected to lead his school through their daily gymnastic regiment, his teacher recommends that he wear a clean, new shirt in honor of this important position – a request that forces his family to make a great sacrifice.

Directed by Xiaoshuai Wang | Starring : Ni Yan, Jinchun Wang, Wenqing Liu, Renlang Qiao, Yi Zi | Presented at Toronto Film Festival, San Sebastian Film Festival, Pusan Film Festival, Tokyo Film Festival, Les Arcs Film Festival, Rotterdam Film Festival, Göteborg Film Festival, Istanbul Film Festival, Taipei Film Festival, St. Louis Film Festival, Fribourg Film Festival

桃姐 | A Simple Life

A Simple Life

Based on a true story, the film centres on Ah Tao, an amah who has worked for the Leung family for four generations. She lives with and takes care of Roger, a film producer who is the only member of the Leung household still living in Hong Kong. Roger returns home one day and finds Ah Tao unconscious after a stroke. Convinced she has becoming a burden, Tao resigns and moves into a retirement home. But upon her arrival, she continues to be taken care of by Roger, who realizes just how important she is to him. He decides to do his best to watch after the person who has nurtured him all his life. But Ah Tao’s health is fast deteriorating. Hui has always excelled when telling stories of everyday life. In A Simple Life, she delivers a rich and heartwarming drama that not only deals with the many abandoned old people in Hong Kong, but also exquisitely captures the unique relationship between the amah and the family for which she cares. In an age when loyalty between employers and employees is fast disappearing, A Simple Life highlights a culture that has almost ceased to exist in Hong Kong: one in which a person devotes their life to serving a family, and in return is cherished as much as any other relative.

Directed by Ann Hui | Starring : Andy Lau, Deannie Yip, Hailu Qin, Fuli Wang, Paul Chun | Presented at Venice Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, Vancouver Film Festival, London Film Festival, Stockholm Film Festival, Dubai Film Festival, Palm Springs Film Festival, Rotterdam Film Festival, Okinawa Film Festival, Durban Film Festival, Istanbul Film Festival, Sydney Film Festival, Munich Film Festival, Portland Film Festival

Hello!树先生 | Mr. Tree

Mr Tree

Shu, a bachelor, is an unreliable worker in his village’s motor-repair shop. He tends to stay silent, like a forgotten tree in the wilderness. When the villagers are forced to evacuate due to the expansion of the local mining activities, Shu goes to the provincial capital to ask his friend for a job in a tutorial school. There, Shu falls in love at first sight with Xiaomei, a deaf-mute girl. On the night before their wedding, Shu’s dead father, his elder brother and his elder brother’s murderer appear in his dreams. The wedding is a disaster, and Xiaomei leaves to rejoin her mother. The worries and intuitions that have long flashed through Shu’s mind start to make sense to him. He begins to make prophecies, and many of them come true.

Directed by Jie Han | Starring : Baoqiang Wang, Zhuo Tan, Jie He, Bo Liu, Jing An | Presented at Locarno Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, Pusan Film Festival, Vancouver Film Festival, London Film Festival, Rio de Janeiro Film Festival, Rotterdam 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

黑白照片 | Shanghai Shimen Road

Shanghai Shimen Road

In the late 1980’s Shanghai, a 16 year-old boy, Xiaoli, comes of age surrounded by his neighbors and grandfather. His best friend is a girl named Lanmi, a couple years older than him. But Lanmi slowly drifts away from him, lured by the new opportunities which come as China opens up to foreign goods and businessmen. At the same time, the 1989 events force Xiaoli to grow up and to let go of his teenage dreams.

Directed by Haolun Shu | Starring : Ewen Cheng, Xufei Zhai, Lili Wang, Shouqin Xu, Yang Xiao | Presented at Rotterdam Film Festival, Pusan Film Festival, Marrakech Film Festival, Lille Film Festival, Warsaw Film Festival, Sao Paulo Film Festival