秋之白华 | The Seal of Love

The Seal of Love

China, the early 1920s. Following the 4 May Movement in 1919, when students and radicals demontrated against foreign oppression, Yang Zhihua moves from Zhejiang province to Shanghai and ends up studying sociology at Shanghai University, where she becomes friends with Feng Xiaoxuan, a student of English who’s come to the big city to escape a marriage. In class, Yang falls under the spell of radical teacher Qu Qiubai and perseveres with her studies despite the opposition of her husband Shen Jianlong, by whom she has a young daughter, An’er. Yang becomes Secretary of the Women’s Section of the KMT’s Shanghai Executive Branch, where she works with Xiang Jingyu, wife of Communist revolutionary Cai Hesen, at a time when the Communists were planning to unite with the KMT under Sun Yat-sen’s “Three Principles of the People” reform movement. Yang’s husband finally leaves her in Shanghai and she joins the fledgling Chinese Communist Party, working closely alongside Qu. Following the death of Qu’s wife, in summer 1924 Yang and Qu visit her husband and arrange for her divorce. Following demonstrations in Shanghai, Qu, now married to Yang, becomes a wanted man but manages to escape arrest. In 1927 he and Yang are selected for the CCP’s Central Committee, but the Party is torn by in-fighting. In 1928, they move to Moscow as CCP delegates, but in 1930 return to Shanghai, where Qu, ousted form the Central Committee, works as a translator with writer Lu Xun. But by 1933 Qu’s safety is becoming more and more perilous and he’s forced to leave Yang in Shanghai and flee the city.

Directed by Jianqi Huo | Starring : Shawn Dou, Jie Dong, Jiaming Guo, Chunde Yi, Kira Mi | Presented at Shanghai Film Festival

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山楂树之恋 | Under the Hawthorn Tree

Under the Hawthorne Tree

The People’s Republic of China during the Cultural Revolution. Jing, a college student from town, is sent to a remote mountain village for ‘reeducation’. Jing is the personification of innocence. But her father has been put behind bars for being a ‘counter-revolutionary’ and so now Jing’s mother must try to support her three children on her own. Jing knows that not only her own future but that of her family now depends on how the authorities judge her efforts to be ‘reeducated’. Jing’s careful and inconspicuous behaviour comes to an end, however, when she falls in love with Sun, the engaging son of a high ranking officer. Given their completely different backgrounds, their love is not only hopeless, it is also dangerous. But their mutual attraction proves to be stronger than any of these obstacles. At first Jing resists Sun’s advances, but he refuses to give up, even when she returns to town. Before long, the two young people are passionately – but secretly – in love. Nobody must find out – least of all Jing’s mother, who already fears for her daughter’s future. But then Sun suddenly disappears, and when he reappears, something about him has changed. Jing has to rethink her perception of love, honour and loyalty. And stand up for her real beliefs.

Directed by Yimou Zhang | Starring : Dongyu Zhou, Shawn Dou, Meijuan Xi, Xuejian Li, Taisheng Chen | Presented at Pusan Film Festival, Berlin Film Festival, Melbourne Film Festival, Rio de Janeiro Film Festival, Valladolid Film Festival, Tateshina Kogen Film Festival