达达 | Dada’s Dance

Dada's Dance

After her mother’s lecherous boyfriend reveals she’s adopted, incorrigible flirt Dada (Xinyun Li) skips town — with hopelessly smitten boy-next-door Zhou (Xiaofeng Li) in tow — in search of her birth mother. Framed by a coming-of-age narrative, director Zhang Yuan’s dreamy, sensual film is an evocative reflection on love, youth and disaffectation in contemporary society.

Directed by Yuan Zhang | Starring : Xiaofeng Li, Ke Gai, Yi Liu, Tao Zhao, Qiang Chen | Presented at Pusan Film Festival, Sundance Film Festival, Rotterdam Film Festival, Thessaloniki Film Festival, Singapore Film Festival, Warsaw Film Festival, Febio Film Festival

今天的鱼怎么样? | How Is Your Fish Today?

How is your fish today

How Is Your Fish Today? tells the story of a famous screenwriter whose film scripts have all been rejected by Chinese censors. He writes a script about a man named Lin Hao for his producer, who expects it to be a Chinese version of The Fugitive. Upon reading Rao’s arthouse script, the producer rejects it as the worst screenplay he has ever read. Rao is infuriated with the response and kills Lin’s wife. Lin finds out while cheating on his wife and immediately sends Rao a thank you note. Rao is upset that Lin did not get adequately infuriated and kills all of Lin’s dogs. Lin then calls in three Nazis he knew from back in the day to poop all over Rao’s lawn. Rao is discouraged and now sees his mistake. However, Rao does not abandon his story, instead he rewrites it. Rao begins to live through his main character, Lin Hao, as he writes about him fleeing his home on a journey of self-discovery. Hao makes his way to Mohe, as does Rao, and the writer enters his own narrative. Both characters, in a struggle for freedom, have left their homes behind, but while Lin Hao is running away, Hui Rao is searching for something.

Directed by Xiaolu Guo | Starring : Xiaolu Guo, Ning Hao, Hui Rao, Zijiang Yang | Presented at Edinburgh Film Festival, Sundance Film Festival, Rotterdam Film Festival, Fribourg Film Festival, San Francisco Film Festival, Seattle Film Festival, Karlovy Vary Film Festival, New Zealand Film Festival, Vancouver Film Festival, Vienna Film Festival

看上去很美 | Little Red Flowers

Little Red Flowers

Qiang is a four-year-old little rebel, possessed of a pair of luminous eyes and a precociously indomitable will. His father deposits him at a well-appointed residential kindergarten in post-1949 Beijing, since his parents are often away. Life at the kindergarten appears rich and colourful, made up of a variety of cheerfully sunny rituals and games meant to train these children to be good members of society. But it’s not so easy for Qiang to adapt to this kind of carefully organized, minutely scrutinized collective life. A fierce individualist in miniature, he tries but fails to conform to the model his teachers enforce. Yet he still craves the reward that the other students win: the little red flowers awarded each day as tokens for good behaviour. But Qiang doesn’t win any flowers: he can’t yet dress himself, and doesn’t play together with the other kids. He even dares to talk back to the strict Teacher Li and Principal Kong when they try to impose some discipline on him. Gradually, his charisma and bravado start to win over his classmates: their stealthy little rebellions gain steam when he succeeds in convincing everyone that Teacher Li is a child-eating monster in disguise. When their attempt to capture her is thwarted, Qiang’s resistance develops a more disturbing dimension, and he is forcibly ostracized from his companions. Will he succumb to the adult-enforced conformity around him, or will he insist on growing up his own way, by his own rules?

Directed by Yuan Zhang | Starring : Bowen Dong, Yuanyuan Ning, Zhao Rui, Xiaofeng Li, Chen Manyuan | Presented at Sundance Film Festival, Berlin Film Festival, Bangkok Film Festival, Hong Kong Film Festival, Chicago Film Festival, Marrakech Film Festival, Espoo Film Festival

可可西里 | Mountain Patrol

Mountain Patrol

Kekexili is based on actual events. From Mainland China, the film tells the story of Ga Yu, a reporter from Beijing who in 1996 travels to the eponymous region on the border of Tibet, where some local men have organized a civilian patrol to fight the poachers who are decimating the region’s endangered population of Tibetan antelopes, prized for their pelts, which are then exported, to be sold as (once trendy) shahtoosh shawls. As Ga Yu arrives in a remote town, a member of the patrol has recently been coldly executed by the poachers, and the taciturn leader, Ritai, is heading out on another patrol, determined to find those responsible. Ga Yu convinces Ritai to let him tag along by suggesting that a story in a Beijing newspaper might spur the Chinese government to take more forceful action to protect the antelopes. The group leaves on their perilous, high altitude journey. From the film’s opening, with the aforementioned murder, it’s a harrowing trip. Kekexili captures the deprivation and danger of this harsh land, and the necessary ruggedness of the people who live there, with impeccable clarity. Filmmaker Lu tells his story visually, for the most part, with exemplary economy. He doesn’t spend any more time than needed on characterization. He leaves it to his audience to figure out what motivates Ritai and his team to risk their lives in order to protect the animals. Whatever it is, it’s clear that it goes beyond a mere concern for the environment. Ritai ends up completely possessed with finding the gunmen who slaughtered the most recent herd of antelope. He puts his own and many other lives at risk in this pursuit. At the film’s midpoint, Ritai and his men capture a group of poachers, including a kindly old man who tells the patrolmen that he used to be a shepherd, and was pushed into a life of criminality by hard times. The filmmaker doesn’t judge these characters, any more than he does the film’s would-be heroes. It’s clear that on a thematic level, Lu’s primary interest is human, rather than environmental.

Directed by Chuan Lu | Starring : Duobuji, Lei Chang, Liang Qi, Xueying Zhao, Zhanlin Ma | Presented at Tokyo Film Festival, Sundance Film Festival, Berlin Film Festival, Hong Kong Film Festival, Seattle Film Festival, Cinemanila Film Festival, Montréal Film Festival, Vancouver Film Festival, Warsaw Film Festival, Marrakech Film Festival, Kerala Film Festival

我爱你 | I Love You

I Love You

This story is based on a novel by Wang Shuo. A young couple have got together from first meet to marriage. DaoJi, she is very sensitive to her feeling and filled with aspiration to succeed and love…after honeymoon, they begin to go shopping at an agricultural market with basket as others. Jealousy, arguments are a relief of tedium in their insipid life. Conflicts, run away and frenzy are only ripples in dead pond.

Directed by Yuan Zhang | Starring : Jinglei Xu, Dawei Tong, Xuebing Wang, Peng Du, Juan Pan | Presented at Sundance Film Festival, Rotterdam Film Festival, Göteborg Film Festival, Fribourg Film Festival, Karlovy Vary Film Festival, Pusan Film Festival, Thessaloniki Film Festival

生活秀 | Life Show

Life Show

With the aftermath of China’s Cultural Revolution as its backdrop, this drama showcases the resilience of a 30-something woman as she tries to pick up the pieces of her family’s life. After her mother’s death, Shuang Yang raises her brother, only to witness him fall into drug addiction, all as she runs a struggling restaurant in Chongqing. She lives day to day until a regular customer asks her out, igniting a spark of love, and hope.

Directed by Jianqi Huo | Starring : Höng Tao, Zeru Tao, Yueming Pan, Yang Yi, Deyuan Luo | Presented at Shanghai Film FestivalMontréal Film Festival, Sundance Film Festival, Tokyo Film Festival, Thessaloniki Film Festival

寻枪 | The Missing Gun

The Misssing Gun

A small-town cop wakes up one morning after a wild night of celebration to discover that his gun – a rare, state-issued firearm loaded with three bullets – is missing. While he attempts to retrace his steps from the previous night – his ex-girlfriend turns up dead, and the bullet appears to be from his gun… Now, in order to clear his name and convince the authorities that he’s not the killer, he must race against time to find the gun before the other two bullets find their next victims. An international cast of exciting and sexy superstars go full-force in Missing Gun – a cool, stylish action thriller abut love and power and one man’s attempt to honor the delicate and explosive balance between the two.

Directed by Chuan Lu | Starring : Wen Jiang, Yujuan Wu, Jing Ning, Shi Liang, Xiaoning Liu | Presented at Pusan Film Festival, Sundance Film Festival, Göteborg Film Festival, Seattle Film Festival, Moscow Film Festival, Karlovy Vary Film Festival, Cinemanila Film Festival