二次曝光 | Double Xposure

Double Xposure

Since debuting with her first feature Fish and Elephant in 2001, director Li Yu has gone from rough-and-ready documentary realism with non-professional actors to working with some of the biggest Chinese stars. This stylish and briskly paced psychological thriller, her fifth and visually most ambitious feature yet, plumbs thriller staples of dualities and doubling in dizzying permutations – past indistinguishable from present, reality entangled with illusion, guilt and terror shadowing feelings of love – to a clincher of an ending. Joan Chen in a supporting role impresses, as does Chinese superstar Fan Bingbing, playing a young urbanite whose façade of certainties and comforts – boyfriend, apartment and car – violently splinters in a moment of jealousy.

Directed by Yu Li | Starring : Bingbing Fan, Joan Chen, Shaofeng Feng, Siyan Huo, Anlian Yao | Presented at N/A

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A面B面 | The Double Life

Double life

Hangzhou, China, the present day. Chen Congming, an associate professor at a medical college who is popular with his students, alarms his superiors with his theory that everyone has the potential to go crazy, and that the dividing line between sanity and insanity is paper-thin. The college principal has Chen committed to a mental asylum. There Chen gets to know an orderly, Liang Haichao, who was recently divorced by his childhood sweetheart Liu Yue, a money-obsessed model now suffering from chronic depression. Liu is now engaged to wealthy Cantonese businessman Xiao Chunlei, who’s made his fortune from health/sex tonics. But when Xiao’s six-year-old daughter by his ex-wife Shao Meili has to go into hospital for an emergency kidney operation which Xiao pays for, Liu becomes further depressed that he’s looking to reconcile with his ex-wife. She has a very public nervous breakdown. Meanwhile, Liang has decided that Liu needs “rescuing” from Xiao, and persuades her to get Xiao committed to the mental asylum by feeding him her anti-depressant pills. In the asylum Chen meets Xiao, whom he realises has been framed, and the pair decide to break out together.

Directed by Ying Ning | Starring : Luoyong Wang, Jingchu Zhang, Daniel Chan Hiu Tong, Wenkang Yuan, Wei Kong | Presented at Shanghai Film Festival

太阳照常升起 | The Sun Also Rises

The Sun Also Rises

Wen Jiang’s personality takes center stage in The Sun Also Rises, his first effort since the 2000 Devils on the Doorstep, a film that has yet to be released in China. While The Sun Also Rises captivates with its sumptuous colors, magical realism, high energy, and outstanding performances, its elliptical plot and lack of coherent narrative suggests that Jiang may have purposely clouded the film’s meaning in symbols and code to escape the Chinese censors. Loosely based on author Ye Mi’s novel Velvet, the film is set in China during the Cultural Revolution. There are four stories and six characters in the film, but they have a tenuous connection to each other. Three episodes are set in the 1970s and one twenty years earlier, but Jiang provides no intertitles or other indicators to help the viewer recognize changes in theme, time, or place. As the film opens with a tableau of gorgeous colors and people running, a young woman identified as the mother of a teenage boy buys a pair of embroidered shoes. The colorful shoes are promptly stolen by a mysterious bird, which repeats the mantra “I know, I know, I know,” and the woman falls into what seems to be madness—climbing trees, collecting rocks, digging a pit in the middle of the forest, and screaming the name of Alyosha (which we eventually learn was the name of the boy’s father). Meanwhile her dutiful son tries to protect her, at the cost of having to constantly leave his job. The segment is playful, magical, and poetic in its songs and poetry, and it suggests that insanity reigned supreme during the Cultural Revolution.

Directed by Wen Jiang | Starring : Wen Jiang, Joan Chen, Anthony Wong Chau-Sang, Jaycee Chan, Wei Kong | Presented at Venice Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, Changchun Film Festival, Tokyo Film Festival, Locarno Film Festival