天地英雄 | Warriors of Heaven and Earth

Warriors of Heaven and Earth

North of the vast 8th century Tang dynasty Chinese empire, the commercially and culturally priceless silk route is controlled by 36 friendly Buddhist kingdoms. Their are threatened by Turkic nomad tribes, the caravans also by brigand bands. Japanese scholar Lai Qimay not return home until the emperor is satisfied with his missions to retrieve refugees from the barren border lands. The last is competent imperial lieutenant Li, who was proscribed for refusing to execute Turkic prisoners. He now lives among fellow warriors for hire as caravan escorts. Lai Qi and Li reach a gentleman’s agreement to postpone their lethal duel till after the safe arrival of a caravan including a young Buddhist monk and his mysterious freight. When Turkic warlord Khan’s daughter’s hand seals an alliance with brigand sword master An, the only way out is trough the grimly dry Gobi desert.

Directed by Ping He | Starring : Wen Jiang, Kiichi Nakai, Xueqi Wang, Wei Zhao, Bagen Hasi | Presented at Tokyo Film Festival, Melbourne Film Festival, Oslo Film Festival

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菊豆 | Ju Dou

Ju Dou

A woman married to the brutal and infertile owner of a dye mill in rural China conceives a boy with her husband’s nephew but is forced to raise her son as her husband’s heir without revealing his parentage in this circular tragedy. Filmed in glowing technicolour, this tale of romantic and familial love in the face of unbreakable tradition is more universal than its setting.

Directed by Yimou Zhang | Starring : Li Gong, Baotian Li, Wei Li, Zhang Yi, Xingli Niu | Presented at Cannes Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, New York Film Festival, London Film Festival, Chicago Film Festival, Valladolid Film Festival, Melbourne Film Festival, Sundance Film Festival, Telluride Film Festival

没有航标的河流 | River Without Buoys

The River With Buoys

Life is hard for raftsmen Pan Laowu, Shi Gu, and Zhao Liang. During the Cultural Revolution, they seek work where they can, and spend the rest of the time drinking and brawling. At one stop they learn that district leader Xu, an honest man, has been jailed and nearly persecuted to death. With the help of Pan’s former lover they medicate Xu and move him onto their raft, but encounter a ferocious thunderstorm enroute to safety. River Without Buoys marked the beginning of a second career for actor Li Wei, who had begun acting in films in the 1940s, and also put the formerly obscure Xi’an Film Studio on the PRC cinematic map.

Directed by Tian-Ming Wu | Starring : Wei Li, Yuling Tao, Ronghua Hu, Qingming Tang, Hui-fen Chen | Presented at Hawaii Film Festival