Jia Zhangke Retrospective At New York’s MoMA: A Must-See Event

Jia, One Of China’s Top “Sixth Generation” Filmmakers, To Attend Screenings From March 5-8

Jia Zhangke (贾樟柯) is known for his gritty yet elegant portrayals of modern Chinese society

Jia Zhangke (贾樟柯) is known for his gritty yet elegant portrayals of modern Chinese society

Recently, Jing Daily wrote about the Chinese filmmaker Jia Zhangke (贾樟柯) — one of China’s top “Sixth Generation” directors — receiving the prestigious Legion of Honor (Légion d’honneur) from the French government. Jia, director of such films as 24 CITY, Platform, and Still Life (Winner of the 2006 Golden Lion at the 63rd Venice International Film Festival), received the honor in recognition of his “outstanding contribution” to France, and for exposing French audiences to Chinese culture.

Next month, Jia will receive yet another honor, this time in the United States, as New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) will present the first complete U.S. retrospective of Jia’s work.This exhaustive retrospective, organized by Jytte Jensen, Curator of MoMA’s Department of Film, will include Jia’s entire body of work: eight feature-length films and six shorts produced between 1995 and 2008, and take place between March 5-20.

According to a release, Jia Zhangke and Zhao Tao — Jia’s leading actress since her role in 2000’s Platform — will attend screenings between the opening night film on Friday, March 5, at 7:00 p.m. of 2004’s Shijie (The World), through the screening on Monday, March 8 at 4:00 p.m. of Black Breakfast (2008) and Sanxia haoren (Still Life) from 2006.

Merging a gritty realist style with elegant camera movements and postmodern flourishes, Jia tackles contemporary subject matter in both documentary and fiction projects, often fusing the two approaches to great effect. He has created a body of work that reflects on the enormous physical and interpersonal changes in Chinese society over the past 50 years. Jia Zhangke‘s films resonate with both domestic and international audiences due to his original combination of a sophisticated aesthetic with plainspoken integrity.

The films illuminate the transformations taking place in China‘s environment, architecture, and society, by placing everyday people in the midst of a landscape in turmoil. Aiming to restore the concrete memory of place and to evoke individual history in a rapidly modernizing society, the filmmaker recovers the immediate past in order to imagine the future. His films reflect reality truthfully, while simultaneously using fantasy and a distinct artistic vision to pose existential questions about life and status in a society in flux. Through rigorous specificity, his art attains universal scope and appeal.

An inspiration to fellow filmmakers, Jia has devised an original, ever-evolving, contemporary filmmaking style with a porous, symbiotic relationship between the real and the imagined. His works are cast with amateurs as well as professional actors, and he uses fluid camera movements to deconstruct space, adapt its movements, and position its subject matter. These are prominent aspects of all the director‘s films, and are essential to his storytelling technique and to the remarkable texture of his films.

In addition to attending screenings of several films, on Monday, March 8, Jia will also participate in a special Modern Mondays event at MoMA, where he will discuss his most recent films and present two shorts and a sneak preview of a segment of his upcoming feature, Shanghai Chuan Qi (I Wish I Knew), followed by a Q&A. These events will be a must-see for any Chinese cinema fan — or anyone interested in China’s creative industries — in New York, as it’s rare for a Chinese director of Jia’s caliber to take part in so many screenings and give audiences plenty of opportunities to see and hear from the man himself outside of China.

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