我们天上见 | We’ll Meet in Heaven

We'll Meet in Heaven

At age 40, mainland Chinese actress Jiang Wenli makes a smooth segue behind the camera with autobiographical coming-of-ager “Lan.” Cultural Revolution-set tale of a young girl, whose dream of becoming a champion gymnast is scuppered by the realities of everyday life and family background, is handled with grace and feeling, and is notably light on the political cliches besetting stories of the era. The audience-award winner at this year’s Pusan fest, this unabashedly old-school movie (in the best sense) is ripe for festival and Euro TV exposure, with some limited theatrical potential as well.

Directed by Wenli Jiang | Starring : Xu Zhu, Jun Yao, Ye Liu, Zhu Yinuo, Sichun Ma | Presented at Pusan Film Festival, Dubai Film Festival

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洗澡 | Shower

Shower

Shenzhen businessman, Da Ming, goes home to Beijing when he thinks his father has died. He finds his father hard at work at the family’s bathhouse (the false message was a ruse of Da’s mentally-handicapped, exuberant brother, Er Ming, to get Da home). Da stays a couple days, observing his father being social director, marriage counselor, and dispute mediator for his customers and a boon companion to Er. Da is caught between worlds: the decaying district of his childhood and the booming south where he now lives with a wife who’s not met his family. When Da realizes his father’s health is failing and the district is slated for razing, he must take stock of family and future.

Directed by Yang Zhang | Starring : Xu Zhu, Cunxin Pu, Wu Jiang, Ding Li, Bing He | Presented at Toronto Film Festival, San Sebastian Film Festival, Vancouver Film Festival, Thessaloniki Film Festival, Sundance Film Festival, Rotterdam Film Festival, Buenos Aires Film Festival, Seattle Film Festival, Changchun Film Festival, Calgary Film Festival, Jakarta Film Festival

变脸 | The King of Masks

The King of Masks

Wang Bianlian is an aging street performer known as the King of Mask for his mastery of Sichuan Change Art in a true story. His wife left him with and infant son over 30 years ago. The son died from illness at age 10. This left Wang a melancholy loner aching for a male descendent to learn his rare and dying art. A famous master performer of the Sichuan Opera offers to bring him into his act, thus giving Wang fame and possible fortune, but Wang opts for staying the simple street performer. Then, one night after a performance he is sold a young boy by a slave trader posing as the boy’s parent. “Grandpa” finds new joy in life as he plans to teach “Doggie” (an affectionate term often used for young children in China) his art. All is well until Doggie is found out to really be a girl.

Directed by Tian-Ming Wu | Starring : Xu Zhu, Renying Zhou, Zhigang Zhao, Zhigang Zhang, Jia Zhaoji | Presented at Berlin Film Festival, Tokyo Film Festival, Palm Springs Film Festival, Istanbul Film Festival, Singapore Film Festival, Fajr Film Festival

清凉寺的钟声 | Bell of Purity Temple

Bell of Purity Temple

In 1945, Japan is defeated in its war of aggression against China. During a panic retreat, a baby boy is abandoned, but is adopted and grows up to become and eminent monk. Thirty years later, he visits China and meets his real mother who is now elderly and weak, but his love for Japan and his adopted mother drives him home.

Directed by Jin Xie | Starring : Cunxin Pu, Yi Ding, Komaki Kurihara, Yong You, Xu Zhu | Presented at N/A

心香 | The True-Hearted

The True Hearted

One day Jing Jing, a ten-year-old boy, moves to his grandfather’s house in the south because of his parents’ divorce. His grandfather, a Beijing Opera actor, is not at all happy, since he had opposed his daughter’s marriage. Jing Jing gets into a trouble at school. The film illustrates classical Beijing Opera in different generations and the boy’s process of growing-up.

Directed by Zhou Sun | Starring : Yang Fei, Xu Zhu, Lili Fu, Yumei Wang, Jielin He | Presented at Hawaii Film Festival

大太监李莲英 | Li Lianying, the Imperial Eunuch

Li Lianying

Tian admits that this chamber epic was not a ‘personal’ project; for a film which began shooting only a few months after the Tiananmen Square massacre, it certainly feels more like a flight into history than even an oblique response to the moment. Spanning the last five decades of the Qing Dynasty, it centres on the oddly affectionate relationship between Empress Dowager Cixi and her chief eunuch; the stars were a real life couple at the time. The often filmed historical facts are rehearsed efficiently enough: the folly of deflecting naval funds to the building of the Summer Palace, puppet emperor Guangxu’s ill fated bid for autonomy as a reformist and so on. But the film is vindicated by its prime mover Jiang Wen’s colossal performance as Li; no other actor has ever gone deeper into the implications of castration and living as a neutered animal.

Directed by Zhuangzhuang Tian | Starring : Wen Jiang, Xiaoqing Liu, Fan Xu, Xu Zhu, Jiali Ding | Presented at Berlin Film Festival