Must-See Chinese Film Events In New York: Asia Society, Global Film Initiative

Films By Chinese Directors Like Robin Weng, Han Jie, Zhang Chi Included In Lineups

"Luxury Car" by Wang Chao is included in CUNY-TV's City Cinematheque: A New Decade of Film from China" series

"Luxury Car" by Wang Chao is included in CUNY-TV's City Cinematheque: A New Decade of Film from China" series

Last month, Jing Daily interviewed top Sixth-Generation Chinese filmmaker Jia Zhangke, who discussed the future of independent film in China. According to Jia, despite the dilemma many young filmmakers in China must make when deciding whether to “play ball” within the official, state-run film system or to make films only for a small, niche audience, the Chinese film world is far more varied and vital than many would think. As Jia told us,

I feel that Chinese cinema is actually very lively and exciting. Apart from the commercial fare that people usually hear about, there are a great many films by young directors coming out, many documentaries, which are incredibly fascinating.

To give new audiences a chance to see works by up-and-coming Chinese filmmakers, several organizations in New York have put together, or plan to put together, dedicated cinematic events this year. Following MoMA’s Jia Zhangke retrospective last month, the Asia Society‘s “China’s Past, Present, Future on Film” series is currently underway, continuing until April 16. From the Asia Society’s website:

Independent filmmaking in China is undergoing a renaissance, thanks to a fast-changing China that provides limitless inspiration and the availability of affordable digital technology. This film series begins with a documentary about leading Sixth Generation filmmaker Jia Zhangke, whose works like Xiao Wu (1997) and Platform (2000) propelled Chinese independent films to worldwide admiration. It continues with other recent films, two of them produced by Jia, that examine a dark chapter of China’s past, take penetrating looks at current social phenomena, and explore the hearts and minds of China’s future generations.

Anyone in New York with an interest in Chinese film who has not yet had a chance to take part in this event should do so before it ends in two weeks. Tonight, Peng Tao’s “Little Moth,” the Silver Digital Award winner at the 2007 Hong Kong International Film Festival is featured. Tickets are $7 for members; $9 for students and seniors; and $11 for nonmembers. More information about the series can be found on the Asia Society event website.

Later this month, another Chinese film series, “City Cinematheque: A New Decade of Film from China,” will be featured on CUNY-TV (Cable Channel 75,Saturday-Sunday: 9PM / Fridays at 12 Midnight). Featuring works by directors like Wang Chao (Luxury Car), Li Shaohong (Stolen Life), and Zhang Yang (Getting Home), this series is sure to be an excellent introduction to the world of independent Chinese cinema.

The series schedule, from the Global Film Initiative website:

April 24-25, 30

FILM: “Uniform” (2003/China, 92 min., color, drama, in Mandarin with English subtitles)

Dir.: Diao Yinan. Cast: Liang Hongli, Zheng Xueqiong. A young man who works in a tailor shop is compelled one day to put on a policeman’s uniform that he was unable to deliver and he finds that his life changes. Using the uniform to extort money from drivers, he finds both a way out of his financial troubles and a way to woo a girl at a video store whom he likes. Discussion guest: Weihong Bao, Columbia University. Distrib.: Global Film Initiative.

May 1-2, 7

FILM: “Dam Street” (Hong Yan) (2005/China, 93 min. color, drama, in Mandarin and Sichuan with English subtitles)

Dir.: Li Yu. Cast: Liu Yi, Liu Rui, Huang Xingrao, Li Kechun, Wang Yizhu.

In a small town in China in the early 1980s, a 16-year-old girl gets pregnant and is forced to give up the baby for adoption. Ten years later, estranged from family and community, the girl works as a singer in a local song-and-dance troupe and her only friend is a fiercely protective boy. When a marriage proposal comes her way, her life changes—on all fronts. Discussion guest: Xudong Zhang / New York University. Distrib.: Global Film Initiative.

May 8-9, 14

FILM: “Stolen Life” (Shen Si Jie) (2005/China, 90 min., color, drama, in Mandarin with English subtitles)

Dir.: Li Shaohong. Cast: Zhou Xun, Wu Jun, Cai Ming, Su Xiaoming.

Drama about a young girl, charting her from an awkward adolescence in which she is sent to live with her aunt and grandmother in Beijing, and has to cope with feelings of abandonment, through teenage years in which she surprises everyone by being accepted into college. An encounter with a delivery boy triggers a series of unexpected events. Discussion guest: Martha Nochimson, Cineaste. Distrib.: Global Film Initiative.

May 15-16, 21

FILM: “Luxury Car” (Jiang Cheng Xia Ri) (2006/China, 88 min., color, drama, in Mandarin (Wuhanese) with English subtitles)

Dir.: Wang Chao. Cast: Wu You Cai, Tian Yuan, Huang He, Li Yi Qing. A man travels to the city of Wuhan, determined to fulfill his wife’s last wish of seeing her son. But instead of finding his son, he discovers his daughter working as a karaoke bar escort, forcing him to come to terms with their long-estranged relationship and the tenuous future of his family. Discussion guest: Cindy Wong / College of Staten Island CUNY. Distrib.: Global Film Initiative.

May 22-23, 28

FILM: “Getting Home” (Luo Ye Gui Gen) (2007/China, 101 min., color, comedy-drama, in Mandarin with English subtitles)

Dir.: Zhang Yang. Cast: Zhao Benshan, Hong Qiwen, Gong Dandan, Guo Degang.

Zhao, a middle-aged construction worker, sets out with the body of a dead co-worker to fulfill the man’s last wish of being buried in China’s Three Gorges region. Zhao travels hundreds of miles across extraordinary countryside, encountering a number of colorful characters and experiencing all sorts of adventures in this Chinese road movie. Discussion guest: Peter Hitchcock / Baruch College CUNY. Distrib.: Global Film Initiative.

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