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

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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

日照重庆 | Chongqing Blues

Chongqing Blues2

Award-winning Chinese filmmaker Wang Xiaoshuai explores new territories with his latest film Chongqing Blues, which was Mainland China’s only entry in the main competition of the Cannes Film Festival 2010. Inspired by a true hostage case that happened in Chongqing, the film digs into the heart of a guilt-ridden father who seeks redemption after the tragic death of his estranged son. Upon returning from his voyages, shipmaster Lin Quanhai is informed that his son was gunned down by the police half a year ago in a supermarket robbery. The tragedy prompts Lin to return to his Chongqing hometown to find out what happened to his son, whom he hasn’t seen in 13 years. His quest eventually brings him to the painful realization that he is the one to blame, having inflicted indelible damages to the ones closest to him through his long absence and negligence.

Directed by Xiaoshuai Wang | Starring : Xueqi Wang, Bingbing Fan, Hao Qin, Yi Zi, Feier Li | Presented at Cannes Film Festival, Warsaw Film Festival, London Film Festival, Tokyo Film Festival, Göteborg Film Festival, Hong Kong Film Festival

南京!南京! | City of Life and Death

City of Life and Death1

Nanjing, 1937. The third film from award-winning Sixth Generation director Lu Chuan, City of Life and Death is a devastating account of the massacre that occurred during the Sino-Japanese War when Japanese troops took the city of Nanjing in December 1937, a tragedy remembered as the Rape of Nanking. Shot completely in black and white, this powerful war drama unflinchingly captures the shocking violence and brutality of the Nanjing massacre, from the mass executions of POWs to the raping and slaughtering of civilians, while providing a deeply human portrait of both the victims and the perpetrators. Rendered in many shades of gray, City of Life and Death touches on the different people whose lives are destroyed by the war: the Chinese soldiers who gave their lives, the foreign missionaries who sheltered refugees, the comfort women, the Chinese civilians, and the Japanese soldiers. In a surprising move for a Mainland Chinese film about the Rape of Nanking, City of Life and Death is told primarily from the perspective of a Japanese soldier, who witnesses, commits, and abhors the atrocities of his army. By choosing to humanize rather than demonize, Lu Chuan offers an all the more devastating memory of the Nanjing massacre, and the people who lived and died in the City of Life and Death.

Directed by Chuan Lu | Starring : Ye Liu, Yuanyuan Gao, Hideo Nakaizumi, Wei Fan, Lan Qin | Presented at Edinburgh Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, San Sebastian Film Festival, Athens Film Festival, Oslo Film Festival, Hamptons Film Festival, Pusan Film Festival, Warsaw Film Festival, London Film Festival, AFI Film Festival, Mar del Plata Film Festival, Palm Springs Film Festival, Rotterdam Film Festival, Seattle Film Festival, Melbourne Film Festival, Helsinki Film Festival

夜车 | Night Train

Night Train

What threatens to be a fairly inconspicuous oddball drama, opening as it does with unsmiling court bailiff Wu Hongyan traveling to an out-of-town singles dance which ends in a predictably uncomfortable fashion, soon turns in to a rather nasty game of sexual cat-and-mouse as she falls in lust with the husband of one of the women she has had to help detain. Having flown under the radar of Chinese censors, it’s a slow and often painful film about a woman in search of love and affection in all the wrong places. Be warned: just as you think you’re on the home straight, Yinan inserts a repulsive, near-unwatchable scene of a carthorse being flayed to (what looks like) death; a cruelly over-egged metaphor if there ever was one.

Directed by Yi’nan Diao | Starring : Dan Liu, Liang Qi, Zhengjia Wang, Yongsheng Li, Halyan Meng | Presented at Cannes Film Festival, Athens Film Festival, Vancouver Film Festival, Warsaw Film Festival, London Film Festival, Buenos Aires 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

明日天涯 | All Tomorrow’s Parties

All Tomorrows Parties

In a post-apocalyptic 21st century, Continental Asia lives under the rule of the political and religious sect Gui Dao, which blends Maoist rhetorics with Buddhist iconography… Zhuai and his younger brother Mian are arrested and deported to a camp called Prosperity for re-education. Survival in the camp means hunger, bureaucratic rules, degradation and humiliation. After the catastrophic fall of the sect, the guards of the camp escape, leaving the inmates “free”. Zhuai and Mian wander around before leaving the camp together with beautiful Xuelan and her baby. They find themselves in the desert wastelands of their post-war post-industrial world. They try to rediscover everyday life in a shabby apartment of an abandoned mining town. Are their dreams only of a virtual future?

Directed by Nelson Yu Lik-wai | Starring : Wei Wei Zhao, Yi’nan Diao, Yong-won Cho, Ren Na  | Presented at Cannes Film Festival, Vancouver Film Festival, Sitges Film Festival, Entrevues Film Festival, Rotterdam Film Festival, Buenos Aires Film Festival, Hong Kong Film Festival, Warsaw Film Festival, Chicago Film Festival