无极 | The Promise

The Promise

When the world was young, laid a Kingdom between the Land of Snow and the Barbarian Territory where gods and men lived side by side and promises were lies. When the poor and starving orphaned girl Qingcheng meets the Goddess Manshen, she accepts to become the wealthy beauty of beauties with the curse that she would lose every man she loves, unless three things happen: snow falls in the spring, time moves backwards and the dead comes back to life. Years later, the slave Kunlun helps the Great General Master of the Crimson Armor Guangming to defeat a barbarian army with almost seven times more warriors, and Kunlun becomes his slave. When Guangming is wounded, he asks Kunlun to wear his armor and save the king from the cruel Duke of the North Wuhuan that put the Imperial City under siege with his army. However, Kunlun kills the king to save Princess Qingcheng and promises her to never let her die. Princess Qingcheng falls in love for the man of the crimson armor that she believes is General Guangming. When Snow Wolf saves Kunlun and brings him to the Land of Snow, he recollects his childhood when his mother and sister were killed by the evil Wuhuan. Kunlun decides to return to the Kingdom to face Wuhuan and fight for his love.

Directed by Kaige Chen | Starring : Dong-gun Jang, Hiroyuki Sanada, Cecilia Cheung, Nicholas Tse, Ye Liu | Presented at Berlin Film Festival, Moscow Film Festival

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孔雀 | Peacock

Peacock

Whereas most Chinese art house movies do actual medical damage to viewers with their chic nihilism and long, boring shots of people riding around in trucks, Peacock is a balm for your soul. The Cultural Revolution is China ‘s national trauma, a harrowing decade of turmoil and destruction where everyone just tried to hold on and survive, and when it ended in 1976 millions emerged blinking into the sunlight, astounded that they were still standing. Peacock follows an average family in the average town of Henyang through the eight years after the end of the Cultural Revolution as they pick up their lives as if nothing happened. It’s a great leap forward for the three adult children of the Gao clan. Anchored by a series of family meals, the kids are trying to make it in the world – Weihong, the daughter has to learn that her dream man isn’t going to solve all her problems; eldest brother Weiguo is a simple-minded fat guy who’s an unmarriageable weight around his parents’ necks; and the middle son, Weiqiang, is the typical middle child, narrating the movie and taking every injustice in life as a personal affront. A two-hour plus movie about a family in post-Revolutionary China sounds deadly, but in the hands of Gu Changwei it becomes essential viewing for the dejected, downtrodden and just plain weary. This is a film that traffics in the belief that it doesn’t matter how bad today gets because as long as we’re alive there’s always the hope for a better tomorrow.

Directed by Changwei Gu | Starring : Jingchu Zhang, Yulai Lu, Li Feng, Meiying Huang, Yiwei Zhao | Presented at Berlin Film Festival. Helsinki Film Festival, Brothers Manaki Film Festival, Sao Paulo Film Festival