地下的天空 | The Shaft

The Shaft

In a mining town in western China, separately, we follow three members of a family. Each individual family members’ story flows from one to another chronologically, although they do not simply trace the continual development of a single family. There is the daughter who has to choose between her dreams and a suitable husband, the son who is about to start work down the mine, and the father who has just retired. Their lives are inextricably bound together as they symbolically represent the men and women from all mining towns who must accept their thwarted dreams and aspirations, and learn to accept their lot in life.

Directed by Chi Zhang | Starring : Deyuan Luo, Xuan Huang, Luoqian Zheng, Chen Li, Qiya Gong | Presented at Edinburgh Film Festival, Karlovy Vary Film Festival, Hamburg Film Festival, Ghent Film Festival, Marrakech Film Festival, Sao Paulo Film Festival, Torino Film Festival, Palm Springs Film Festival, Seattle Film Festival

二十四城记 | 24 City

24 City

A masterful film from Jia Zhang-ke, the renowned director chronicles the dramatic closing of a once-prosperous state-owned aeronautics factory in Chengdu, a city in Southwest China, and its conversion into a sprawling luxury apartment complex. Bursting with poetry, pop songs and striking visual detail, the film weaves together unforgettable stories from three generations of workers – some real, some played by actors – into a vivid portrait of the human struggle behind China’s economic miracle.

Directed by Zhang Ke Jia | Starring : Tao Zhao, Joan Chen, Jianbin Chen, Liping Lü | Presented at Cannes Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, New York Film Festival, Sao Paulo Film Festival, Chicago Film Festival, London Film Festival, Mar del Plata Film Festival, Torino Film Festival, Rotterdam Film Festival, Glasgow Film Festival, Cleveland Film Festival, Wisconsin Film Festival, Hong Kong Film Festival, Rio de Janeiro Film Festival, St. Louis Film Festival

黑社会 | Election


Every two years senior members of Hong Kong’s oldest Triad, The Wo Shing Society, elect a new chairman. Fierce rivalries emerge between the two eligible candidates. Lok, respected by the Uncles is the favorite to win. His rival Big D will stop at nothing to change this by going against hundreds of years of Triad tradition – influencing the vote with money and violence. When Wo Shing’s ancient symbol of leadership, the Dragon’s Head Baton, goes missing, a ruthless struggle for power erupts and the race to retrieve the Baton threatens to tear Wo Shing in two. Can Wo Shing balance their traditional brotherhood ways with the cut-throat modern world of 21st century business?

Directed by Johnnie To | Starring : Simon Yam, Tony Leung Ka Fai, Louis Koo, Nick Cheung, Ka Tung Lam | Presented at Cannes Film Festival, Rio de Janeiro Film Festival, Torino Film Festival, Sitges Film Festival, La Rochelle Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, Rotterdam Film Festival, Pusan Film Festival, Buenos Aires Film Festival, Locarno Film Festival

天边一朵云 | The Wayward Cloud

The Wayward Cloud

The most audacious film to date from visionary director Tsai Ming-liang, The Wayward Cloud is about a porn actor and the museum tour guide who enters into a strange relationship with him, unaware of his profession. Hsiao-kang is the same alienated youth whose chance encounter with Shiang-chyi provided the spark that fueled Tsai’s earlier films. Once again, these two lost souls cross paths—he now works as an actor in no-budget porn films, and she wanders around Taipei, hoarding bottles of water because of a serious drought. In fact, the government is recommending that people eat watermelons to hydrate themselves. This fruit sets in motion a perverse (and often hilarious) symbolic theme throughout much of the film. As in his earlier film The Hole, Tsai adds trashy, campy musical numbers into the narrative. These sequences play against the raw sex scenes, creating a bizarre, existential chaos. The filmmaker has created a perfectly realized alternative universe in his ongoing exploration of sex, bodies, and loneliness. His stationary camera perfectly illustrates the isolation and exploitation the characters are trapped in—yet the film is as funny as it is emotionally tortured. Tsai’s characters are indeed wayward clouds, drifting through life without purpose, in a world without water. And prepare yourself for the film’s unbelievable final scene, which manages to be both weirdly erotic and profoundly disturbing.

Directed by Ming-liang Tsai | Starring : Kang-sheng Lee, Shiang-chyi Chen, Yi-Ching Lu, Kuei-Mei Yang, Sumomo Yozakura | Presented at Berlin Film Festival, Brisbane Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, Rio de Janeiro Film Festival, Chicago Film Festival, Sitges Film Festival, Stockholm Film Festival, Torino Film Festival, Nantes Film Festival, Alba Regia Film Festival, Helsinki Film Festival

假装没感觉 | Shanghai Women

Shanghai Women

After Women’s Story, Peng returns to the most straightforward representation of women’s issues in Shanghai Women, a film about three rural women. As the first work in Peng’s Shanghai Trilogy, Shanghai Women describes the problem that women encounter trying to secure urban (residential) space through the story of women from three generations: a grandmother, mother and a daughter, Ah-xia. Fed up with her philandering husband, the mother decides to divorce and moves with Ah-xia to grandmother’s. The grandmother lives with her son, with his wedding on the horizon. Grandmother’s becomes too cramped for comfort because of the larger family. To secure their place, mother accepts a reluctant marriage arranged by the grandmother, with Li, who lives with his son. Li is nitpicking, stingy, and even violent and finally the mother and Ah-xia leave the place together. The mother considers a remarriage with her ex-husband but Ah-xia encourages her mother to make their own future together and find their own place. The film reveals the realities of an urban divorced woman and her insecure life if she leaves her husband’s house in a scene where mother and daughter ceaselessly wander about creek-side areas in Shanghai.

Directed by Xiaolian Peng | Starring : Liping Lü, Haiying Sun, Zhenyao Zheng, Wenqian Zhou, Jing-ming Shi | Presented at Cairo Film Festival, Nantes Film Festival

命带追逐 | Mirror Image

Mirror Image

Pawnshop manager Lin Tung-Ching’s life has become too unpredictable since the lifeline of his left hand was damaged in a motorcycle accident. His girlfriend Eiko is desperate to find a way to help Tung-Ching retrieve his lifeline. She suggests they take customers palm prints, so she can practice her palm-reading. Even though Eiko is helping him, Lin feels attracted to a another girl, one who came to collect her pawned watch. He manages to meet her without Eiko knowing.

Directed by Ya-chuan Hsiao | Starring : Hsiao-fan Fan, Jiunn-jye Lee, Era Wang, Dei-yuan Chu, Li-wei Yang | Presented at Hong Kong Film Festival, Cannes Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, Marrakech Film Festival, Chicago Film Festival, Vancouver Film Festival, London Film Festival, Thessaloniki Film Festival, Torino Film Festival, Buenos Aires Film Festival, Jeonju Film Festival

周末情人 | Weekend Lover

Weekend Lover

Weekend Lover’s noir-style and tales of violent disaffected youth led to its comparison with similar films of the period, notably Zhang Yuan’s Beijing Bastards. Like that film, Weekend Lover is also considered a defining film for the “Sixth Generation” of Chinese cinema, particularly in its tone and subject matter that focuses on modern urban life instead of traditional Chinese history. The film follows a young man, A Xi who is recently released from prison. Once released, he seeks out his old girlfriend Li Xin who has since begun a relationship with La La a young musician. As the two men vie for her attention, tension and violence escalate.

Directed by Ye Lou | Starring : Xiaoqing Ma, Hongshen Jia, Xiaoshuai Wang, Zhiwen Wan, An Nai | Presented at Torino Film Festival=

民警故事 | On the Beat

On the Beat

Take crime out of police work, and what’s left is procedures. In the western sector of Beijing, we follow the tedium of police officers. A rabid dog is loose in Guoli’s beat: a gang of police officers hunts it down. Then, word comes from on high to pick up all the dogs in the sector: fear of rabies combines with the dogs’ being status symbols of the nouveau riche. Occasionally a criminal is picked up: someone selling porn, someone running a three-card-monte game. Cops smoke, go to meetings, and hold trainings. They patrol on bicycles and enforce edicts. Guoli works nights. He’s lazy at home, his wife wants him to do more. Is there any more to do?

Directed by Ying Ning | Starring : Li Zhanho, Liangui Wang, Zhiming Zhao, Li Jian, Shen Zhenou | Presented at Toronto Film Festival, San Sebastian Film Festival, Thessaloniki Film Festival, Torino Film Festival, Entrevues Film Festival, Berlin Film Festival, Fribourg Film Festival, Febio Film Festival

多桑 | A Borrowed Life

A Borrowed Life

Sega, a Taiwanese born in the years of Japanese rule, felt closer to Japanese nationality and culture than to the Mainland Chinese authorities who took over in 1945. The Japanese contributed to the development of the island and its social infrastructure, leaving behind efficient and popular education and health-care systems. Conversely, Wen-Jian is typical of the sons born to Sega’s generation. Born and raised under Chinese government, their natural allegiance is to Chinese culture. They are inevitably mystified by and impatient with their parents’ fondness for Japanese culture and rule, their bafflement intensified by all they are taught about Japanese imperialist ambitions and wartime atrocities. Tjos os a generational conundrum with no solution, doubtless unique to Taiwan.

Directed by Nien-Jen Wu | Starring : Chen-Nan Tsai, Shufang Chen, Fang Mei, Jun Fu, Ing-How Tan | Presented at Vancouver Film Festival, Thessaloniki Film Festival, Torino Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival

青少年哪吒 | Rebels of the Neon God

Rebels of the Neon God

The Taiwanese title refers to Nezha, a powerful child god in Chinese classical mythology who was born into a human family. Nezha is impulsive and disobedient. He tries to kill his father, but is brought under control when a Taoist immortal (Nezha’s spiritual mentor) gives the father a miniature pagoda that enables him to control his rebellious son. This resonates in the film a number of ways: Lee’s mother believes that he is Nezha reincarnated, and Tze and Bing try to pawn off some stolen goods to an arcade proprieter named Nezha. Before the pawning of the stolen goods, Lee vandalizes Tze’s motorcycle, including graffiti stating “Here is Nezha.”

Directed by Ming-liang Tsai | Starring : Kang-sheng Lee, Chao-jung Chen, Yi-Ching Lu, Tien Miao, Yu-wen Wang | Presented at Taipei Film Festival, Berlin Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, Chicago Film Festival, Tokyo Film Festival, Torino Film Festival, Cleveland Film Festival, Thessaloniki Film Festival, Buenos Aires Film Festival, Febio Film Festival

爱在别乡的季节 | Farewell China

Farewell China

Hong Kong acting legends Tony Leung Ka-Fai and Maggie Cheung star as a Chinese couple separated by the painful, arduous and risky process of illegal immigration to America. A year after his wife leaves for New York City, Leung Ka-Fai follows, but discovers his wife’s been lost in the crush of poverty, hardship and urban decay. Gritty and unsentimental, Farewell China was nominated for Best Film at the Hong Kong Film Award.

Directed by Clara Law | Starring : Maggie Cheung, Tony Leung Ka Fai, Hayley Man, Chun Liao, Peter Yip | Presented at Torino Film Festival

胭脂扣 | Rouge


Starring late Hong Kong legends Leslie Cheung and Anita Mui, Rouge from acclaimed filmmaker Stanley Kwan tells a sad and enchanting love story about passion, dedication, fate, and karma. Fleur is the blue angel in one of Hong Kong’s “flower houses” – bordellos and night clubs of the 1930’s. A detached and beautiful performer, she falls in love with Twelfth Master Chan, heir to a chain of pharmacies. They agree to a suicide pact. Jump ahead 50 years to modern Hong Kong: Fleur’s ghost appears in Yuen’s newspaper office, wanting to place an ad to find Chan, who never arrived in the afterlife. Yuen, and his equally bewildered girl friend, An Chor, are captivated by Fleur and her story.

Directed by Stanley Kwan | Starring : Anita Mui, Leslie Cheung, Alex Man, Emily Chu, Irene Wan | Presented at Toronto Film Festival, Torino Film Festival, Nantes Film Festival

尼罗河女儿 | Daughter of the Nile

Daughter of the Nile

Lin Hsiao-yang, tries to keep her family together while working as a waitress at KFC and going to night school. Her mother and older brother are dead. Her father works out of town. It’s up to Lin Hsiao-yang to take care of her pre-teen sister, who has already begun to steal, and a brother who is a burglar and gang member. The title is a reference to a character in a manga called Crest of the Royal Family who is hailed as Daughter of the Nile. The film is a study of the life of young people in contemporary Taipei urban life, focusing on the marginalised figure of a woman and centered on a fast-food server’s hapless crush on a gigolo. The introductory sequence suggests a parallel between the difficulties faced by people in the film (Taiwan’s urban youth, transitioning from a classical civilization into a changing world) and the mythic struggles of characters in the Egyptian Book of the Dead.

Directed by Hsiao-hsien Hou | Starring : Lin Yang, Jack Kao, Fan Yang, Tianlu Li, Fu Sheng Tsui | Presented at Torino Film Festival, Cannes Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, New York Film Festival, Buenos Aires Film Festival, Thessaloniki Film Festival

大阅兵 | The Big Parade

The Big Parade

For eight months in 1985, 10,000 Chinese men and women underwent a grueling training program to prepare for a parade celebrating the 35th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic. The drilling was harsh and unsparing: The rookies were required to maintain formation for three hours in the sun, to march in torrential rain, to stand at attention on one foot. Chen Kaige, a member of the noted Fifth Generation of young Chinese filmmakers, won acclaim throughout the world for Yellow Earth. But some of his supporters took him to task for The Big Parade, which they saw as glorifying the martial spirit. The film, however, evidently failed to please the authorities too; it was shelved for two years and a new, presumably more positive ending, was required. Chen says that his motive was neither to extol nor to criticize military virtues. “To put it simply, our primary concern is the relationship and the problems that arise between individuals and the group, personality and communal spirit, man and his environment, in a constantly changing world. What we studied is not what the big parade achieved, but the social psychology that surfaced in the training program.”

Directed by Kaige Chen | Starring : Xueqi Wang, Chun Sun, Li Tung, Lu Lei, Qiang Guan | Presented at Montréal Film Festival, Torino Film Festival, Chicago Film Festival

英雄本色 | A Better Tomorrow

A Better Tomorrow

Two friends, Ho and Mark, are triads in a counterfeiting operation who end up doing ‘one more job’ and what do you know, this one more job gets messier than they had hoped. Mark returns as a cripple and Ho ends up doing some porridge. This is further complicated as Ho’s younger brother Kit is an aspiring young police officer. As the violence escalates, the lines between lawful and otherwise start to blur if favour of heroic loyalty between brothers.

Directed by John Woo | Starring : Yun-Fat Chow, Leslie Cheung, Lung Ti, Emily Chu, Waise Lee | Presented at Berlin Film Festival, AFI Film Festival, Torino Film Festival, Helsinki Film Festival

童年往事 | A Time to Live, a Time to Die

A Time to Live and a Time to Die

Hou Xiaoxian’s overwhelmingly moving film is at least 70% autobiographical: these are remembered scenes from his own mischievous childhood and near-delinquent adolescence, and the fact that he speaks the opening and closing voice-overs himself confirms the intimacy and candour of the memories. But this is also the story of an entire generation, the generation of Mainland Chinese who settled in Taiwan in the late 1940s and then found themselves unable to return home after the Communist victory of 1949. A story then, of displaced persons and displaced emotions, in which traditional family bonds suffer the pressures of exile and social change and begin to crack under the strain. It’s a story never before told on film, and certainly never visualised in images of such measured warmth and beauty.

Directed by Hsiao-hsien Hou | Starring : Feng Tien, Fang Mei, Ru-Yun Tang, Ai Hsiao, Ann-Shuin Yiu | Presented at Berlin Film Festival, New York Film Festival, Torino Film Festival, Hawaii Film Festival, Rotterdam Film Festival, Buenos Aires Film Festival, Thessaloniki Film Festival