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

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非诚勿扰 | If You Are the One

If You Are the One

China director Feng Xiaogang returns to the small story for his latest film, the romantic comedy If You Are The One starring top actress Shu Qi and popular Mainland actor and Feng Xiaogang regular Ge You. Feng’s once-a-year Lunar New Year offerings are box-office guarantees in China, and If You Are The One has been no exception, turning into one of the China’s highest-grossing films of all time. After Banquet and Assembly, Feng goes back to the smartly scripted comedies he’s best known for to tell the humorous, yet heartbreaking tale of a wealthy middle-aged man’s long-winded journey to find his other half. Keeping some of Feng’s recent penchant for grandeur, If You Are the One features sweeping photography and beautiful location shoots in China and Japan, not to mention a star-studded supporting cast that includes Taiwan beauty Vivian Hsu Hong Kong actor Alex Fong Chung Sun, and Mainland stars Fan Wei and Hu Ke Nouveau riche entrepreneur Qin Fen turned into an overnight millionaire after selling off an unlikely invention. Now all he needs is someone to share the wealth with. With his below-average looks and above-average wallet, Qin Fen sets out to find a wife through online personal ads, and ends up meeting a long lineup of strange candidates. But he holds a torch for only one: Smiley, a gorgeous flight attendant with a married lover and tons of emotional baggage.

Directed by Xiaogang Feng | Starring : You Ge, Qi Shu, Wei Fan, Alex Fong, Vivian Hsu | Presented at Leeds Film Festival

芳香之旅 | The Road

The Road

Aboard a bus in the rural mountains of China, a naïve young girl name Li Chunfen attends to passengers’ needs, all the while speaking of the virtues of the Communist Party. The always loyal Li is happy to serve the driver, Old Cui, a kind of father figure to her who also acts as the consoling voice of the party. When she develops an acute case of puppy love for a frequent passenger — an emotion that leads to a chased kiss and a rape report, she learns all too well that her party and driver might not always have her best interests in mind. But how big of hand will the Cultural Revolution play in Li’s life? How much control will she have over her own fate? Spanning five decades of Li’s life, The Road is a coming-of-age tale of epic proportions. Heartbreakingly beautiful — the countryside cinematography is jaw-dropping — and tragically timely, the film stands out as a masterful work from a powerful new Chinese voice, director Zhang Jiarui, reminding us of a painful history and warning us never to repeat it.

Directed by Jiarui Zhang | Starring : Jingchu Zhang, Wei Fan, Yuan Nie, Lu Huang, Xiaomei Jiang | Presented at Thessaloniki Film Festival, Cairo Film Festival

开往春天的地铁 | Spring Subway

Spring Subway

Director Zhang Yibai makes an impressive debut with Spring Subway, a stylish urban romance about the silent suffering of a modern Chinese couple. Geng Le is Jianbin, a recently unemployed Beijing urbanite whose marriage to designer Xiaohui is hitting a difficult patch after nearly seven years of matrimony. Xiaohui finds friendship – and possibly more – with a customer, while Jianbin keeps up appearances by going to work every morning and riding the Beijing subway all day. On the subway, life continues for him, as he views various couples falling in and out of love. He even becomes emotionally involved with a schoolteacher, and slowly the wall of silence between the married couple becomes ever more impenetrable. Zhang Yibai finds rich territory for exploration among these emotionally-stilted modern Chinese, who might be able to make their lives work if only they could communicate. Shot with stylish, enthralling cinematic panache, Spring Subway is an offbeat and stunning work from an important new voice in Chinese cinema.

Directed by Yibai Zhang | Starring : Geng Le, Jinglei Xu, Yuanyuan Gao, Yang Zhang, Lan Ke | Presented at Cannes Film Festival, Thessaloniki Film Festival