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18 Chinese Films at Rotterdam Film Festival

Sun Spots (dir. Yang Heng)

18 films by Chinese directors or with a Chinese theme will be presented at this year’s International Film Festival Rotterdam, which runs from January 27 to February 7. Among these films include Oxhide II, Liu Jiayin‘s follow up to her debut feature Oxhide (recently voted one of the top ten Chinese films of the past decade). Sun Spots, the second feature by Yang Heng (whose debut Betelnut is a dGenerate Films ttle) will be in competition for the VPRO Tiger Award.

City of Life and Death, Lu Chuan‘s controversial big-budget feature depicting the Nanjing Massacre, has inspired a sidebar of related films, several of which date back to the time of the historic tragedy.

The full lineup of films can be found after the break.The Annunciation (Hsu Ronin, China 2010) Moving, atmospheric social realism by the young Chinese debutant is about a simple newlywed couple who have moved to the city like so many others looking for work. He really wants a child, she wants to make him happy. But how does she convince him that his sperm isn’t helping?

City of Life and Death (Lu Chuan, China 2009) Impressive chronicle in beautiful black & white about the horrors inflicted by the Japanese in 1937 after they conquered the former Chinese capital Nanjing. Lu Chuan does not only show the random nature of executions and rapes, but also the horror of a well-intentioned Japanese soldier.

Condolences (Ying Lian, China 2009) Burial rites become the mise-en-scène in which politicians, the media, a monk and an infuriated neighbour vividly portray the aftermath of an accident.

Dangerous encounters: 1st kind (Tsui Hark, Hong Kong 1980) Notorious raised middle finger of the Hong Kong New Wave, about three stupid young men who accidentally run over and kill a pedestrian and then, blackmailed by the crazy female witness, use violence to save their skins in the urban jungle.

The Eight Hundred Heroes (Ying Yunwei, China 1938) 800 soldiers of the 88th regiment against what feels like the whole of Japan’s Imperial Army – think Thermopylae, Chinese version. A splendid, visually amazing gem.

Goodbye (Song Fang, China 2008) Delicate short fiction. After an accident, Li Xin ends up with her deceased school friend’s parents. Her stay rips open old wounds.

Kun 1 Action (Wu Haohao, China 2008) Kun1 Action is a wake-up call for young people in China. With his collage of interviews, archive material and reconstructions, the film maker Wu Haohao hopes to ‘save local film from degeneration’. Self assured, crazy and naughty.

March 14 2009, Hong Kong Coliseum (Hsu Chia-Wei, Taiwan 2009) In an empty concert hall, star singer Fish Leong shares her deeper thoughts on the pan-Asian tour, in which every show follows a fixed pattern.

Night & Fog (Ann Hui, Hong Kong 2009) Ann Hui’s dark realistic Night & Fog starts at the end of the story, with the brutal murder by a man of his wife and daughters. Hui gradually unmasks the idyll of the peaceful family and that of Hong Kong as the promised land for gold seekers.

Once Upon a Time Proletarian (Guo Xiaolu, UK/Germany 2009) Portrait of post-Maoist China in twelve commentaries by inhabitants of the country. Writer/film maker Guo Xialolu sketches a varied picture of a China that is still developing very rapidly, but which still doesn’t seem to have much room for individual needs. Those who can’t keep up can do little else but complain.

Oxhide II (Liu Jiayin, China 2009) The Chinese director shows herself and her parents in their apartment only with fixed camera positions, with which she revolves around the kitchen table. The rigorously minimalist story emerges in real time: the time it takes to prepare and eat Chinese dumplings together.

Protect My Country (He Feiguang, China 1939) Japanese soldiers take a Chinese village: babies get bayoneted, the elderly crucified, able men pressed into the enemy army. A classic piece of anti-Japanese agitation.

Spring Fever (Lou Ye, Hong Kong, France 2009) Impressionist film about a passionate homosexual relationship between the married intellectual Wang Ping and the transvestite Jiang Cheng. After Summer Palace, the Chinese director Lou Ye seems again to seek confrontation with the Chinese authorities.

Sun Spots (Yang Heng, Hong Kong, China 2009), nominee of VPRO Tiger Awards Successful Chinese example of minimalist cinema combines beautiful, very sharp HD images without camera movements with a story about a tragic relationship between a tattooed gangster and a hesitant girl suffering the pains of unrequited love.

Unforgettable Memory (Liu Wei, China 2009) In China, few people want to be reminded of the events of 1989. The maker of Unforgettable Memory is still struggling with the past.

Wheat Harvest (Xu Tong, China 2008) Controversial documentary sketches the double life of the young Niu Hongmiao, who cares for her sick father in the countryside and works in Beijing as a prostitute. A picture gradually emerges of the Chinese sex industry. A world with its own language, rituals and rules.

Yasukuni (Li Ying, Japan, China 2007) The Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo was established as a place of worship for the war dead. Some two million are enshrined there – including more than a thousand convicted and oftentimes executed war criminals. Among the most controversial documentaries of the decade.

The 400 Million (Joris Ivens, USA, China 1939) A partisan documentary film on the Chinese resistance against Japan. A classic of world cinema.


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