白银帝国 | Empire of Silver

Empire of Silver

With this lush epic Palo Alto–based filmmaker Christina Yao tells a story both timely and timeless: a tale of love, succession and compromised ideals that chronicles the lives of a powerful family of Shanxi bankers during the waning years of the Qing Dynasty. Downright Shakespearean in theme, the film details a little-known piece of Chinese history while offering parallels to the current financial crisis with its shadowy world of unscrupulous market fixing and backroom deals. In the northeastern Chinese province of 19th-century Shanxi, a group of bankers amassed extensive wealth and power that allowed them considerable independence from the state. The fictional Kang family is one such clan, whose fortunes take a sudden turn for the worse when several of the family’s heirs meet tragic fates and civil unrest threatens the nation’s stability. Third Master, a hedonist and the Kang patriarch’s least favorite son, is now called upon to carry on their lineage. Torn between familial obligation and his own desire for love and happiness, he sets out to reform his father’s unethical business practices while shepherding the family through the country’s growing unrest. Full of swooping crane shots, monumental sets and massive landscapes, Yao’s debut recalls the opulent historical sagas of Chinese Fifth Generation filmmakers like Zhang Yimou as it combines a passionate tale of unrequited love and a fascinating glimpse of a rarely related episode in Chinese history.

Directed by Christina Yao | Starring : Aaron Kwok, Tielin Zhang, Lei Hao, Zhicheng Ding, Jennifer Tilly | Presented at Berlin Film Festival, Shanghai Film Festival, Hawaii Film Festival, San Francisco Film Festival, Mexico Film Festival

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梅兰芳 | Forever Enthralled

Forever Enthralled

Acclaimed Fifth Generation director Chen Kaige brings the tumultuous life of Peking Opera legend Mei Lanfang to the big screen in the highly anticipated biopic Forever Enthralled. The inspiration for Leslie Cheung’s character in Chen Kaige’s 1993 masterpiece Farewell My Concubine, Mei Lanfang was one of the greatest Peking Opera stars of modern China. An actor who specializes in female roles, he was renowned for his great beauty on stage and performed extensively around the world, famously introducing Peking Opera to Western audiences. Pulling viewers into a riveting world of musical allure and historical tumult in early 20th century China, Forever Enthralled follows Mei Lanfang’s amazing, inevitable rise to fame – from his bold challenges against his teacher as a teenager, to his US tour that brought New York to its feet, and finally to his refusal to sing during the Japanese Occupation period. Portrayed in youth by newcomer Yu Shaoqun and in adulthood by Hong Kong star Leon Lai, Mei Lanfang embodies the professional and emotional struggles of a man whose life belonged not to himself, but to the stage.

Directed by Kaige Chen | Starring : Leon Lai, Ziyi Zhang, Honglei Sun, Hong Chen, Xueqi Wang | Presented at Berlin Film Festival, Seattle Film Festival, Rio de Janeiro Film Festival, Ghent Film Festival