这里,那里 | Here, There

Here There

Three interwoven stories of contemporary China. In the snowy forests of northern China, a lonely man herds reindeer and busies himself with his daily tasks, looking forward to visits from his wife and son. In Shanghai, a young restaurant worker becomes drawn to a troubled young woman and tries to care for her. In Paris, a young Chinese student is robbed of his passport. He receives unexpected help from an elderly compatriot who knows the ins and outs of their new city.

Directed by Sheng Lu | Starring : Yulai Lu, Lu Huang, Anliao Yao, Deshun Wang, Yan Bo Bai | Presented at Pusan Film Festival, Tokyo Film Festival, Edinburgh 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

观音山 | Buddha Mountain

Buddha Mountain

Three 20-something buddies drift like free-spirits through Chengdu, Sichuan: Nan Feng, a gorgeous and fearlessly feisty bar singer, and her two admirers, bike delivery guy Ding Bo and roly-poly Fei Zao. When Nan Feng accidentally assaults a well-connected bar patron, the three need to find not only compensation money but also a new place to live. They find the apartment of Chang Yueqin, a retired but agelessly elegant Beijing opera performer. Life styles and generations clash: Yueqin tries to impose discipline on the youths, and they in turn mock her old-fashioned harshness. When their reckless violation of her privacy exposes Yueqin’s hidden sorrows, the four learn to accommodate their differences, then how to offer emotional and ultimately spiritual support.

Directed by Yu Li | Starring : Bingbing Fan, Sylvia Chang, Bo-lin Chen, Yue Guan, Li Fang | Presented at Tokyo Film Festival, Vancouver Film Festival, Chicago Film Festival, Thessaloniki Film Festival, Cleveland Film Festival

钢的琴 | The Piano in a Factory

The Piano in a Factory

An offbeat ballad of friendship and devotion, The Piano in a Factory captures the tempo of changing times with quiet wisdom and a tinge of nostalgia. Steelworker Chen has a passion for music and plays the accordion in a local band with a close group of friends. When his estranged wife returns one day after years of absence, she demands a divorce and sole custody of their daughter. Chen is at a loss. He doesn’t mind divorcing a woman who has become a stranger, but he can’t bear to part with his daughter. Chen has worked hard to give her a respectable life and has taught her his love of music. When asked if she’d rather stay with her father or go with her mother, the girl gives a practical, devastating answer: she’ll go with whomever can provide her with a piano. Chen cannot afford such a luxury item, but the piano becomes his last hope to save what little is left of his family. With the help of his loyal friends and the support of his lover – the singer in his band – Chen concocts several plans to fulfill his daughter’s wish, from sneaking her into the local music school at night to drawing a fake piano. He even tries to steal the instrument from the school – anything to keep her near him. Nothing works for long, until Chen looks around his fading steel factory town and hits on the perfect solution. The Piano in a Factory is an endearing portrait of a moment when the certainty of state-run industry begins to falter. Simple in its measured and assured direction, The Piano in a Factory establishes Zhang Meng as one of the most vibrant voices in Chinese cinema today.

Directed by Zhang Meng | Starring : Qianyuan Wang, Shin-yeong Jang, Hailu Qin, Yongzhen Guo, Er-yang Luo | Presented at Toronto Film Festival, Tokyo Film Festival, Cinemanila Film Festival, Dubai Film Festival, Rotterdam Film Festival, Glasgow Film Festival, Miami Film Festival, San Francisco Film Festival, Wisconsin Film Festival, Melbourne Film Festival, Hamburg Film Festival, Thessaloniki Film Festival

得闲炒饭 | All About Love

All About Love

A sharp and funny exploration of the complex world of adult relationships, All About Love takes a rare look at the lives of queer women and their specific challenges when it comes to creating a family. Known for her cleverly observed societal dramas, Ann Hui is one of Hong Kong’s most respected filmmakers. Here, she balances the serious themes of motherhood, sexuality and discrimination – topics rarely addressed in Hong Kong cinema – with wit, humour and compassion. Macy, a bisexual lawyer with a fear of commitment, is frustrated by the judgemental attitudes of lesbians, but wants to get back in the female dating game. Urged by her good friends and their life partners to settle down, Macy runs into Anita, an ex-girlfriend who is pregnant after a one-night stand with Mike. Macy, who is also unexpectedly pregnant with her neighbour Robert, rekindles her romance with Anita, but her fear of commitment threatens to derail their plans to start a family together. Anita is devastated when her co-workers ostracize her after discovering that she’ll be a single mother, and this intensifies her thoughts of giving up the baby. Chow, who returns to the big screen after a fourteen year absence, is radiant as Anita, developing irresistible chemistry with Sandra Ng, who brings her great comic and dramatic timing to her performance. While All About Love is structured as a commercial romantic comedy, its themes are radical in scope. By presenting queer relationships as the norm and deconstructing the idea of a nuclear family, Hui has expertly crafted a film that dispels stereotypes on what constitutes a family. Hong Kong, for all its modernity is, at its core, still extremely conservative and traditional in terms of gender roles and family values, with no civil rights for same-sex couples. Hui subtly challenges such ideas and reminds the audience that the most important aspects of any relationship are not gender and convention, but love and commitment.

Directed by Ann Hui | Starring : Sandra Ng Kwan Yue, Vivian Chow, William Chan Wai-Ting, Siu-Fai Cheung, Jo Kuk | Presented at Toronto Film Festival, Pusan Film Festival, Tokyo Film Festival

第四张画 | The Fourth Portrait

Fourth Portrait

Ten year-old Xiang faces a lonely future after his father dies. Just when he thinks he’s going to spend his life in the orphanage, his estranged mother shows up. And his life changes forever… A loveless mother, a hateful stepfather, a chilly home. Where’s Xiang heading to? He finds comfort in drawing and his work reveals his longing for care and affection. Life is full of hope again when he meets the old school janitor who doesn’t show his kindness easily and a portly man who has crazy ideas and is haunted with nightmares of his brother. A scary truth is about to be unmasked. Will Xiang be able to depict his own image in the fourth portrait?

Directed by Mong-Hong Chung | Starring : Bi Xiao-Hai, Shih-chieh Chin, Lei Hao, Leon Dai, Terri Kwan | Presented at Locarno Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, Tokyo Film Festival, Mar del Plata Film Festival, Nantes Film Festival, Cinemanila Film Festival, Melbourne Film Festival, Gindou Film Festival, Wisconsin Film Festival

第三十六个故事 | Taipei Exchanges

Taipei Exchange

This second feature by Hsiao Ya-Chuan, with leading Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-Hsien as executive producer, is a stylish and enjoyable tale of love, friendship, coffee and cake. When Doris fulfills her dream of opening a café, it quickly becomes overrun with junk offered as gifts. Younger sister Josie thinks up an idea of turning it into a swap shop. As hopes and dreams intersect over espresso and mouth-watering cakes, Doris’ Café becomes a place where people come to exchange their junk and life stories for an object of their desire.

Directed by Ya-chuan Hsiao | Starring : Gwei Lun-Mei, Zaizai Lin, Han Chang, Kôsuke Atari, Jiunn-jye Lee | Presented at Tokyo Film Festival, Cinemanila Film Festival