百合 | Lost

Lost

Shenzhen, China, the present day. Nineteen-year-old Wang Baihe is a migrant worker from a village in Shaanxi province. She has a baby son from a one-night stand with a man from Hong Kong and a small income from making Chinese decorative knots at home. Her dream is to open a noodle restaurant and “make lots of money and become a city person” but she finds it difficult to find regular employment because of her baby boy. Her story emerges through interviews with journalist Liu Nan, who is writing a book about her. When Baihe discovers her son has congenital heart disease, she tries desperate ways to raise the RMB80,000 (US$12,000) for the operation, helped by her friend and fellow migrant worker Hu Jinling.

Directed by Xiaowen Zhou | Starring : Zitong Wang, Liping Lü, Yaqi Zhao, Ziheng Wang, Wei Chen | Presented at N/A

Advertisements

秦颂 | The Emperor’s Shadow

Emperor's Shadow

The Qin emperor Shih Huang Ti is on his way to conquering the 6 Kingdoms of feudal China and uniting the Middle Kingdom. He recalls childhood friend Gao Qian Li who is the undisputed maestro of the Chinese lute. The emperor asks him to compose a symphony in celebration of his victory in the bloody war to unify China. A man who refuses to bow to the force of tyranny, Gao Qian Li is unwilling to undertake the composition. Frustrated and angered by Gao’s unrelenting disobedience, yet unable and unwilling to kill him for reasons of his obvious talents and their childhood friendship, the tyrant appears to have met his match. Matters take a twisted turn as Gao falls prey to the seduction of the emperor’s crippled daughter, Princess Ping Yang violating her virginity and enraging the Emperor even further. Both Gao and the Princess use each other as pawns, to vent their anger at the cruel Emperor. At her behest, Gao finally composes the song Tribute to Qin. After the premiere performance of the song, Gao suicidally jumps into the river with his flaming lute, drowning his music forever. This is a movie of epic proportions, exploring the twisted relationship between the ruthlessly tyrannical Qin Emperor and his childhood playmate. The sets are impressively stunning as are the performances by both male leads, both emerging from the tutelage of Chinese New Wave meister, Zhang Yi Mou.

Directed by Xiaowen Zhou | Starring : You Ge, Wen Jiang, Qing Xu, Yuan Yuan, Qingxiang Wang | Presented at San Sebastian Film Festival, Vancouver Film Festival, AFI Film Festival

二嫫 | Ermo

Ermo

Ermo is a film that revolves around a self-assertive peasant woman named Ermo, who is sexually frustrated because of her impotent husband. Ermo feels unwanted and becomes passionate about money, which becomes the substitution of her sexual needs. Frustrated by her neighbor’s privileged status as the only one who owns a 27-inch TV in the village, Ermo becomes obsessed with buying a 29-inch TV. Driven by her desire, Ermo transforms from a rural woman who sells twisted noodles in a local market to a consumer of Western cultural products such as TV programs. At the end the film, Ermo validates her life’s worth with the 29-inch colored TV, a television so big and expensive that even the head of the county cannot afford. However, the void in Ermo’s soul is left unfilled after she worked so hard and spent all her money on the TV. The big TV does not bring her happiness in the end. The film ends with an ironic scene where Ermo goes back to the local market and starts to make her living as a seller of twisted noodles again. The film director uses Ermo’s quest for a TV set to show the inevitable cultural disruptions and the struggle of the individual in a consumer society, which are caused by China’s modernization under its economic reform during the early 1990s. The film director uses one woman’s pursuit of “televisuality” as a social commentary on China’s collective national agenda of modernization and globalization under Deng Xiaoping. The film criticizes the capitalistic consumer culture, where everybody is struggling for material goods and become obsessed with money.

Directed by Xiaowen Zhou | Starring : Liya Ai, Peiqi Liu, Zhijun Ge, Haiyan Zhang, Zhenguo Yan | Presented at Locarno Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, Chicago Film Festival