Chinese Arthouse Cinema Series at Beijing’s UCCA Art Cinematheque
Lan (dir. Jiang Wenli)
The ScreenOut Film Exhibition, hosted by Guangzhou-based Southern Metropolis Daily, is China’s first (and so far only) campaign to introduce art films into commercial-run cinemas. It has presented a number of indie films by many acclaimed Chinese directors, such as Jia Zhangke, Gu Changwei, Lv Le, Wang Quanan, and Wang Xiaoshui. This year, a special retrospective programme at UCCA will screen selected films from past years and a special screen of this year’s new film Lan (dir. Jiang Wenli) and Judge (dir. Liu Jie).
DATES April 11, 2010 – April 28, 2010
15rmb for adults (with exhibition admission) 10rmb for students with valid student ID
ADDRESS 798 Art District, No.4 Jiuxianqiao Lu, P.O. Box 8503, Chaoyang District, Beijing, P.R.China, 100015
Tel: +86 (0) 10 8459 9269/8459 9387 Fax: +86 (0) 10 8459 9717
TRANSPORTATION – By Car: From Sanyuan Bridge or Siyuan Bridge enter the Airport Expressway, then leave the Airport Expressway at the entrance to Jiuxianqiao Rd. – By Bus: Take Bus 401, 402, 405, 445, 909, 955, 973, 988, 991 to Dashanzi or Wangyefen Stop.
Full screening schedule and film descriptions after the break.
Sunday, Apr. 11 13:00 Old Fish 101 mins, Chinese and English subtitles, Q&A with director Gao Qunshu
Wednesday, Apr. 14 19:00 Jalainur 92 mins, Chinese and English subtitles, Q&A with film director Zhao Ye
Saturday, Apr. 17 13:30 Railroad of Hope 56 mins, In Chinese with English subtitle, Q&A with director Ning Ying
19:00 Knitting 98 mins, Chinese and English subtitles, Q&A with director Yin Lichuan
Sunday, Apr. 18 16:00 Judge 98 mins, In Mandarin with English subtitle, Q&A with director Liu Jie
19:00 Lala’s Gun 99 mins, Chinese and English subtitles, Q&A with director Ning Jingwu
Sunday, Apr. 25 19:00 Lan 85 mins, Chinese and English subtitles
Tuesday, Apr. 27 19:00 The Story of Ermei 115 mins, Chinese and English subtitles
Wednesday, Apr. 28 19:00 The Search 122 mins, In Tibetan with Chinese subtitle, Q&A with director Pema Tseden
Old Fish Drama, China, Gao Qunshu, 2007, 101 mins, In Mandarin with English & Chinese Subtitles 13:00, Sunday, Apr. 11
Best Actor and Jury Grand Prix in Shanghai Film Festival (2008)
Lao Yu, an old cop in Harbin, knows a thing or two about explosives. He’s also about to retire and has a routine for family, work and leisure. When criminals start planting bombs in the city, he volunteers to defuse them, out of an old-school sense of duty and a deep-seated sense of boredom. One after another he defuses the bombs (and barks at his young colleague),until number 11,a big one…played by real Harbin cops in their snow-bound city, Old Fish is at once a solid action thrilled and a subtle elegy to the sorrows of the “accidental heroes” that are becoming extinct in contemporary China.
About the director: One of the most popular TV directors in China, Gao Qunshu has turned to filmmaking in recent years. Gao had made two smaller films, first Tokyo Trial in 2006 and then Old Fish in 2008. Based on an actual serial-bomb extortion case in Qiqihar in Northeast China, the latter film harks back to Gao’s roots in crime dramas, and is highly lauded for his documentary-like treatment using lots of long shots and a cast filled with amateur actors. The film was awarded Jury Grand Prix and Best Actor (for Ma Guowei, who is a cop in real life) at the 11th Shanghai International Film Festival.
Jalainur Drama, China, Zhao Ye, 2008, 92 mins, English & Chinese Subtitles 19:00, Wednesday, Apr. 14
Shanghai International Film Festival Asian New Talent Award for Best Director Award (2009)
Jalainur (a Mongolian word meaning “ocean-like lake”) is a coal mine in the Manzhouli City of Inner Mongolia. Old Zhu, a steam-train driver, and his apprentice Li Zhizhong, a train signalman, are inseparable. Old Zhu, who has worked at the colliery for thirty years, will soon retire, leaving Zhizhong lost and confused. The latter decides to follow Master Zhu after work one day, much to Zhu’s quiet dismay. Impending obsolescence shadows the future of these men, although Zhihong, riding the trains like a romantic horseman and waving his signal flag, remains dedicated to both his job and Zhu. Director Zhao Ye’s cinematic vision monumentalises the smoke, steam and grit that form the existential texture of lives in the colliery, celebrating as well as mourning the passing of time and the fragility of friendship. A plate of steamed buns glows like a celebration of resilience in the middle of a barren landscape interrupted by the figures of tired men and gasps of smoke from the long throats of locomotives; in another scene, Old Zhu and Zhizhong awkwardly sing a duet in the street that captures exactly the sense of loss that both of them must eventually learn to live with.
About the Director: Jalainur is Zhao Ye’s second feature film, and it received the FIPRESCI prize in Pusan in 2008. Barely thirty years of age, he has already directed Ma Wu Jia in 2007, which won the Best Picture Award at the China Independent Film Festival, and a short animation film, Cai Wei, in 2004.
Railroad of Hope Documentary, China, Ning Ying, 2001, 56 mins, Chinese with English subtitle 13:30, Saturday, Apr. 17
Forum at Berlin International Film Festival (2002)
Cinéma du Réel Award at French Real Film Festival (2002)
Amsterdam International Documentary Film Festival
Every year during August and September, several thousand agricultural workers travel more than 1800 miles across China, from Szechwan to the Xinjiang Autonomous Region. There, endless cotton fields await the harvest. For many, it is the first time away from the home village, and the first time on a train. In fascinating detail and nuance, Railroad of Hope casts a light on the relatively new phenomenon of internal migrations across China, featuring the scores of workers traveling by rail. During the journey, the camera crew wanders the train, filming passengers as they eat or sleep, and asking them such questions as “Is this your first trip?” “What are your ideals?” “What is important to you in your life?” The result is a rare and wonderful presentation of the thoughts, hopes, and dreams of ordinary Chinese.
About the director Ning Ying was born in Beijing. She first directed a film in 1990, yet recently was the subject of a retrospective at the Harvard Film Archive. At the international level, her best known films include: For Fun, On the Beat and I Love Beijing which are also known as the BEIJING TRILOGY. These films show the profound changes experienced by ordinary Chinese people during the post-Mao reforms.
Lala’s Gun Drama, China, Ning Jingwu, 2008, 99 mins, English and Chinese subtitles 19:00, Sunday, Apr. 18
Generation 14plus program at Berlin International Film Festival (2009)
Lala’s Gun tells the story of a young boy of the Miao ethnic minority in China. As dictated by tradition, every Miao boy upon reaching the age of fifteen is to receive a gunfrom his father as a symbol of reaching manhood. Lala, however, has been raised by his grandmother, his mother having died and his father having abandoned the family years earlier. Though promised a gun from the local gunsmith, Lala sets off to other villages in search of a father he never knew.
About the director: In 1996, Ning Jingwu graduated with a master degree in directing from Beijing Film Academy and has been working on film industry as director, writer and producer. He used to be a poet before he entered filmmaking. Ning’s films show his compassionate concerns for minority groups and people from lower class, including kids, the disabled, labors and aboriginal tribes. He depicts the banal everyday life of these minority groups in a style characterized by a sense of poetry and simplicity.
Judge Drama, China, Liu Jie, 2009, 98 mins, Mandarin with English subtitle 16:00, Sunday, Apr. 18
Horizons at Venice Film Festival (2009)
FIPRESCI Prize at Miami Film Festival (2010)
This story happened in 1997 in a small city in northern China. A criminal named Qiuwu was sentenced to death for stealing two cars. The lead judge on this case, Judge Tian, had just lost his daughter in a tragic traffic accident – she was killed by a stolen car. A change in the law creates an opportunity for Qiuwu to avoid execution… At the same time, Qiuwu tries to lighten his sentence by offering to donate one of his kidneys – creating a chance for a rich businessman named Lee to survive a terminal illness. Lee sets to work paying Qiuwu’s family and greasing the wheels of the system so he can secure the kidney… Lee discovers that the only way to secure the kidney is after Qiuwu’s execution – an execution that is now being questioned based on the new changes in the law… On the execution ground, a hard decision awaits Judge Tian.
Director’s Note: January 1, 2007, the Supreme Court took back the review right of death penalty. That news reminded me about a true story, in which a young guy was sentenced to death for merely stealing two cars a decade ago. Are we going to be surprised from the loose death penalty standard when we look back 10 years from now? Through my film, I hope people can start thinking more about life and death and the philosophy behind them.
About the Director: In 1987 Liu Jie entered the Beijing Film Academy and studied photography for 4 years. From 1992 to 2003, as director of photography or producer, he made a number of acclaimed independent films, none of which, however, met the general public in Chinese mainland. Courthouse On The Horseback – Liu’s first work as director-Official Awards-Premier Horizon at 63rd International Venice Film Festival.
Knitting Drama, China, Yin Lichuan, 2008, 98 mins, English & Chinese Subtitles 19:00, Saturday, Apr. 17
Directors’ Fortnight 2009 Cannes Film Festival
Best Female Actor in a Motion Picture and Best New Performer at Golden Phoenix Award (2009)
Daping hates Haili. Haili strode out of nowhere into her apartment, her life, and her promising relationship with Chen Jin. Though Daping tries to be a kind and honest person, Haili bullies her mercilessly. Then one day, Chen Jin disappears, leaving Daping pregnant again and not knowing how to survive. Haili has also experienced many hardships and difficulties in her life, and might be just the person to help Daping in troubled times. Although her mocking attitude doesn’t change, there’s still a chance for a bond to form between these two women’s hearts.
Director’s Note: This is a moving film full of humanism. Created in the style of traditional realism, the film focuses on social reality. But society is only the background for a vivid depiction of people and their stories.
The film unfolds from a female perspective and deals with female themes. Yet it expands from these themes to demonstrate humanism and express my understanding of life compassion and forgiveness, as well as pay tribute to the protagonists’ tenacity.
About the Director: As an important member of the poetry society “Xiabanshen (Lower Half of the Body),” she is praised as the leading female writer of the generation of “post-1970s” and “the cool generation.” In 2006, she wrote and directed her first film The Park, which is rapidly making her “one of the ten most eye-catching young directors in the new Chinese film power” (Variety).
Lan Drama, China, Jiang Wenli, 2009, 89 mins, Mandarin with English subtitles 19:00, Sunday, Apr. 25
South Korea’s 14th Pusan International Film Festival audiences Choice Awards (2009)
Lan, the debut by acclaimed Chinese actress Jiang Wenli (Lost Indulgence, And the Spring Comes), is a recollection of growing up under her grandfather’s fold during the Cultural Revolution. This 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.
About the director: Jiang Wenli, born 1969 in Bengbu, Anhui, is a famous Chinese actress. She graduated from Beijing Film Academy in 1992. She won the Best Actress award at Rome Film Festival for her performance in And the Spring Comes which was directed by her husband Gu Changwei.
The Story of Ermei Drama, China, Wang Quanan, 2004, 115 mins, English and Chinese subtitle 19:00, Tuesday, Apr. 27
Panorama at Berlin International Film Festival (2004)
Best Female Actor at Golden Phoenix Award (2004)
Paris International Film Festival Best Actress (2004)
Jingzhe tells the story of Ermei (played by Yu Nan), a young villager in rural China. When Ermei’s family falls on hard financial times, she is forced to marry off to an alcoholic villager so her family can collect the dowry. Unhappy in her married life, Ermei runs away to the city where she finds a work at a restaurant. She has an affair with a man named Qiao but soon returns to her drunkard husband, where an emergency forces her to take initiative in her relationship.
About the director: Born in Yanan in Shaanxi province in 1965, he attended film school in Beijing. After graduating in 1991, he began working for Xi’an Film Studios and also wrote screenplays in his spare time. His feature film debut, Yue Shi (Lunar Eclipse), which also starred Yu Nan in the leading role, was shown in the International Forum section of the Berlinale in 2002. Jingzhe is his second film as a director.
The Search Drama, China, Pema Tseden, 2008, 112 mins, Tibetan with Chinese subtitle 19:00, Wednesday, Apr. 28
12th Shanghai International Film Festival Jury Prize Award (2009)
A film director is accompanied by his friend and a business owner, who serves as a guide, to find an actor and actress to play the roles of Prince Drimé Kunden and Princess Mande Zangmo. In a village known for its Tibetan opera performance, the director finds a girl, an ideal candidate for the role of princess. Her melodious voice touches everyone. However, she decides to take the role only on the condition that the director and his friend find her ex-boyfriend, who previously acted as the prince along with her. The director consents to her wish. On the way to find her ex-boyfriend, the business owner narrates his touching love story as a young man. Throughout their search, the story gradually draws in both the director and the girl with the covered face. The initial simple search for an acting cast eventually becomes a complex inner and outer search for existential and spiritual meaning. Finally, although they find the girl’s ex-boyfriend, her face is still not revealed. The life and the search for Drimé Kunden both continue.
About the director: Pema Tseden is the son of Tibetan nomads, the only one of three siblings to have finished his schooling. He is also the first director in China ever to film movies entirely in the Tibetan language. The Search, Pema Tseden’s latest film, won the Grand Jury Prize at Shanghai’s recent International Film Festival and is slated to be shown at the upcoming Locarno film festival in Switzerland.