A NEW OLD PLAY

椒麻堂会

WATCH

Mandarin w/ English subtitles

Minutes: 

180

Director: 

Qiu Jiongjiong

Narrative

2022

|

China

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A NEW OLD PLAY

Trailer

A NEW OLD PLAY

Qiu Jiongjiong’s visually magnificent new film is a unique hybrid of fiction, historical reminiscence, and experimental theatre. Its overview of China from the 1930s to the 1980s is filtered through Qiu Yu, a Sichuan opera 'clown' based on the director’s own famous grandfather. As Qiu Yu negotiates his entry into Hades with two comic sidekicks, his departing soul reviews his childhood, his performances, family tragedies, and political perils.


This film of unparalleled aesthetic and political courage takes place in modestly spectacular visual settings: Qiu, a famous artist, has handcrafted an exquisite miniature model village, a fantastical river landscape, a golden sun in the shape of a Buddha’s head. These images set the scene for a constantly shifting acting style that embraces absurdism, political melodrama, comic vaudeville, and ritual tableaux. We are offered memory as a re-lived collective experience, insistently comic in its mode, but expansively humane in its vision. —IFFR

1/1
"I haven’t seen a more aesthetically (and historically) daring, brilliant independent feature from China in years."

Shelly Kraicer, Vancouver International Film Festival

"A playful and vital work, a sincere act of love for a land and a culture steeped in history, a hymn to the Dionysian spirit of art."

Eddie Bertozzi, Locarno Film Festival

"In his film, which runs over 179 minutes, director Qiu creates a huge epochal fresco and revives the ancient Sichuan Opera tradition with the magic touch of a modern-day Méliè."

Maria Giovanna Vagenas, Senses of Cinema

"Qiu has made a cleverly contained existential epic, an ode to the innate persistence of workers, artists, and people in the face of futility and poor fortune. It is a wonder the film carries it off with an empathetic sparkle—there must be some purpose to art, to life, after all."

Daniel Kasman, MUBI Notebook