上海纪事 | Once Upon a Time in Shanghai

Once upon a Time in Shanghai

The film begins in the fall of 1948 and ends in the winter of 1950 in Shanghai. What happened in Shanghai when the Kuomintang and the Communist Party of China were at war, in other words, during the Chinese Civil War? Peng returns to this most confusing time in Shanghai and pulls out the history of those days. The protagonists are mainly Huirong, Zhaobai, and Jikan, who have studied business management in the USA and have returned to their hometown, Shanghai. Huirong and Zhaobai are engaged, and although three of them are close friends, problems arise when they find out that their opinions clash on the matter of what the objective for building a new China should be and what direction it should take. Huirong is an anti-American communist who protects his father’s factory in order to clothe the Chinese people in Chinese clothes, while Jikan is an economist working at the Ministry of Finance of the Kuomintang, and Huirong’s husband Zhaobai is a freelance photographer for foreign media. The film dramatizes just how past friends are divided into the anti-American communist woman and the Kuomintang man, and an observing man who watches all the confusion, in the midst of all the chaos of the times, the ban on gold trading, inflation, and the anti-Kuomintang students’ movement, and how they fall into the pit of history where they kill each other and are killed. The nightline of Shanghai today which continues to shine beyond Zhaobai, the only survivor, seems even more superficial. By continuously making use of night scenes and hazy smoke, this is an epic that illustrates the reality of Shanghai, which has fallen into a deep pit, and the future of China at the time, hidden behind thick smoke.

Directed by Xiaolian Peng | Starring : Ya’nan Wang, Quan Yuan, Shaoan Dai, Li Wei, Guochun Wei | Presented at N/A

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谈情说爱 | Your Black Hair and My Hand

Your Black Hair and My Hand

This Hong Kong drama parallels the stories of two young couples, splicing them with dream sequences and a framing story set at a coffee bar where friends have gathered to talk. Their first topic is the strange love affair between tough-guy Rong and poor Min. The two come together after he saves her from loss of face when she is unable to pay her cab fare one night. But she is a girl with secrets. When her father suddenly dies, Rong learns that she is wealthy, and, ever chivalrous, Rong vows to care for her as both a father and a husband. A wedding ensues, but after a three-day honeymoon, Min mysteriously disappears. The coffee shop crowd then launches into the story of Youge, a secretary who falls in love with her already married boss. Her troubles begin when she discovers herself pregnant.

Directed by Xin Lee | Starring : Winston Chao, Ya’nan Wang, Yi-nan Chen, Meng Tang, Xiao Guo | Presented at San Sebastian Film Festival

摇啊摇,摇到外婆桥 | Shanghai Triad

Shanghai Triad

Zhang Yimou’s Shanghai Triad won the Technical Grand Prize at Cannes Film Festival in 1995, and was also nominated for the prestigious Golden Palm. Having collaborated with Zhang Yimou for a few artistically acclaimed titles including Raise the Red Lantern, Gong Li had by then made a name for herself as an actress. After Shanghai Triad, she stopped working with Zhang for more than a decade until Curse of the Golden Flower reunited them in 2006. Wonderfully colored and visually sumptuous, Shanghai Triad also received a nomination for Best Cinematography at the Oscars. Shanghai Triad, a film noir by genre, shows triad life through the eyes of a teenager, a perspective not often seen in this genre. Teenage boy Shuisheng moves from the countryside to Shanghai to stay with his uncle, who is under triad leader Tang. Tang sends Shuisheng to serve his mistress Xiao Jinbao (Gong Li). She has an affair with Song, another triad leader who plans to seize power from Tang. Shuisheng, innocent and naive, involuntarily gets involved in a power struggle which may explode at any time.

Directed by Yimou Zhang | Starring : Li Gong, Baotian Li, Wang Xiaoxiao, Xuejian Li, Chun Sun | Presented at Cannes Film Festival, Telluride Film Festival, New York Film Festival, London Film Festival