狼灾记 | The Warrior and the Wolf

The Warrior and the Wolf

A father figure in contemporary Chinese cinema, controversial avant-garde auteur Tian Zhuang Zhuang is back with a rewarding work of fearless art. A departure from his free-spirited early works and the cautious intimacy of his later films, The Warrior and the Wolf is the captivating adaptation of a short story by the prolific Japanese writer Yasushi Inoue. In the Era of the Warring States, before the unification of China, thousands of soldiers are dispatched to fight the enemy and conquer nomadic tribes. Sent to remote regions at the edges of the known world, the soldiers encounter many adversities, and the brutal challenge of survival often brings out the worst human instincts. But valiant Lu Chenkang belongs to a different breed. He is brave, loyal and extremely skilled in the art of war. Nevertheless, he is kind-hearted and averse to murder. Though he has a pet wolf cub, he keeps his own animal instincts at bay. When his commander and friend, General Zhang Anliang, is badly wounded just before the incipient winter, Lu takes over command of the troops. Forced to find shelter in the village of the mysterious Harran tribe, he discovers a beautiful young woman hiding in his refuge. A widow shunned into solitude, she has a fierce personality and fights Lu in every way she can before surrendering to his passionate embrace, having fallen for him against her better judgement. She seems to possess the strange ability to take his mind to a place where memories collide with dreams and legends – a place where humans were once wolves.

Directed by Zhuangzhuang Tian | Starring : Jô Odagiri, Maggie Q, Chung-Hua Tou, Zhiwen Wang | Presented at Toronto Film Festival, Rome Film Festival, Hawaii Film Festival

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麦田 | Wheat

Wheat

In the Kingdom of Zhao, all the men have left for war and Lady Li (Fan Bingbing), wife of the absent lord, says victory will soon bring their men back home. When two enemy deserters invade the kingdom they pretend to be Zhao soldiers and improvise a tale for Lady Li describing Zhao’s victory. Word of the supposed victory spreads rapidly throughout the town, causing misplaced optimism among the women until the truth is revealed and despair and horror emerge.

Directed by Ping He | Starring : Bingbing Fan, Zhiwen Wang, Jue Huang, Jiayi Du, Xueqi Wang | Presented at Shanghai Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, Ghent Film Festival, Tokyo Film Festival

美人依旧 | The Beauty Remains

Beauty Remains2

Set in 1948 against the backdrop of Communism’s rise, “Fei” is the story of two sisters, Fei and Ying, bound together by the will of their late father, a legendary business entrepreneur, and their shared love for a charismatic ex-boxer, Huang. They are two women whose paths have been dictated by the often cruel decrees of the men their lives–two women who must somehow transcend that influence…or lose everything.

Directed by Ann Hu | Starring : Xun Zhou, Vivian Wu, Zhiwen Wang, Lisa Lu, Lixin Yang | Presented at Cleveland Film Festival

和你在一起 | Together

Together

Chen Kaige, director of the Oscar-nominated Farewell My Concubine, composes a richly imagined and “tender symphony” (Screen International) about love, ambition and destiny in China’s high-pressure world of classical music. Surging with “warmth, humanity and a sense of humor” (The Hollywood Reporter) , this lyrical, enchanting “heartwarmer” (Variety) is a “sure fire crowd pleaser” (Los Angeles Times)! When a violin prodigy Xiaochun and his father head to Beijing seeking fame and fortune, they soon discover a fierce world of cutthroat ambition. But when Xiaochun is “adopted” by a famous music tutor, success finally seems within reach – until a shocking discovery begins to unravel his entire world, and the boy must make the most difficult choice of his life. Can he achieve the fame his father had always hoped for without losing the extraordinary passion that sets him apart?

Directed by Kaige Chen | Starring : Peiqi Liu, Yun Tang, Hong Chen, Zhiwen Wang, Kaige Chen | Presented at Toronto Film Festival, San Sebastian Film Festival, Florida Film Festival, Philadelphia Film Festival, Istanbul Film Festival, Tribeca Film Festival, Moscow Film Festival, Copenhagen Film Festival, Bergen Film Festival

荆轲刺秦王 | The Emperor and the Assassin

The Emperor and the Assassin

A lavishly produced historical drama from China, The Emperor and the Assassin tells the complex, multi-facetted story of the man who became the first Emperor of a unified China, another man who has sworn to kill him, and a woman who is loved by both men. Late in the Third Century B.C., when China was comprised of seven rival kingdoms, Ying Zheng was the leader of Qin. Ying Zheng had a dream in which he joined together the seven kingdoms into a single utopian state, and taking this as a mandate from God, he invaded the nearby state of Han as the first step toward this goal. However, not everyone in the neighboring states was happy with Ying Zheng’s crusade, which seemed to indicate a lengthy war with many casualties. Lady Zhao, Ying’s lover, devised a scheme to help Ying Zheng take over the nearby and uncooperative state of Yan; she fabricated a fake assassination plot against him, and framed the leader of Yan, once Ying Zheng’s childhood friend, as the man behind the murderous plot. However, Lady Zhao did not choose the would-be assassin wisely; while Jing Ke loved her and was willing to do her bidding, Jing Ke’s previous assassination assignment caused the unintended death of an innocent blind girl, which left him full of regret and a bit unstable. When Jing Ke learned a closely guarded secret about Ying Zheng’s past, he became blindly determined to kill the would-be emperor, whatever the cost.

Directed by Kaige Chen | Starring : Li Gong, Fengyi Zhang, Xuejian Li, Yongfei Gu, Zhiwen Wang | Presented at Cannes Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, AFI Film Festival, Reykjavik Film Festival, Thessaloniki Film Festival

周末情人 | Weekend Lover

Weekend Lover

Weekend Lover’s noir-style and tales of violent disaffected youth led to its comparison with similar films of the period, notably Zhang Yuan’s Beijing Bastards. Like that film, Weekend Lover is also considered a defining film for the “Sixth Generation” of Chinese cinema, particularly in its tone and subject matter that focuses on modern urban life instead of traditional Chinese history. The film follows a young man, A Xi who is recently released from prison. Once released, he seeks out his old girlfriend Li Xin who has since begun a relationship with La La a young musician. As the two men vie for her attention, tension and violence escalate.

Directed by Ye Lou | Starring : Xiaoqing Ma, Hongshen Jia, Xiaoshuai Wang, Zhiwen Wan, An Nai | Presented at Torino Film Festival=

红粉 | Blush

Blush

This film captures the depressing everyday life in a small town where everyone knows a murder will happen. Fifth-generation woman director Li Shaohong has freely adapted the García Márquez novel Chronicle of a Death Foretold to produce a truly shocking account of the consequences of poverty and backwardness in a North China village. In her version, the victim of the all-too-preventable killing is not a wealthy man but the village teacher, the only intellectual in a community of peasants. The build-up to the crime, explored in a web of flashbacks, turns out to hinge on the inner rage of a 36-year-old male virgin and on the puritanical stance of traditional village society; but what Li ultimately lays bare is the psyche of a people for whom existence means no more than survival.

Directed by Shaohong Li | Starring : Ji Wang, Saifei He, Zhiwen Wang, Liwei Zhang, Ruoli Wang | Presented at Berlin Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, Chicago Film Festival