China

Jianxin Huang – Hei pao shi jian AKA The Black Cannon Incident (1985)

Quote:
A key Fifth Generation work released during the second phase of Deng Xiaoping’s social and economic reforms, this robust social satire delightfully depicts the clash between the rising class of rapid industrial modernizers and old Party cadres with a serious Cultural Revolution hangover. The film chronicles the Kafkaesque predicament of a bumbling factory translator who is suspected of industrial espionage after sending an innocent telegram that is intercepted by a militant snoop. (The “black cannon” of the title refers to the missing chess piece the hapless hero is trying to locate.) Placed under investigation and reassigned to a less sensitive department but never informed of the reason for his demotion, he petitions to get his job back, sparking an increasingly obtuse and hilarious series of Party meetings, set in a boardroom straight out of German Expressionism. Read More »

Yang Mingming – Rou qing shi AKA Girls Always Happy (2018) (HD)

Wu is in her mid-twenties and lives with her mother in a traditional one-story house in one of Beijing’s hutongs. Both consider themselves to be writers, but success has so far eluded them. The fact that Wu is supported by a divorced, elderly man helps the women through lean periods. Their unhealthily close relationship is characterized by reproaches and quibbling; only during meals do they appear to lay down their verbal weapons. The situation escalates when both Wu and her mother hit an emotional low. Read More »

Zhangke Jia – Jiang hu er nv AKA Ash Is Purest White (2018) (HD)

Set in China’s underworld, this tale of love and betrayal follows Qiao, a dancer who fires a few warning shots during a fight and then, after lying to protect her gangster lover Bin from a long prison sentence, ends up in jail herself. When she’s released five years later into a changed world, she goes in search of Bin, who has been mysteriously silent during her imprisonment… Read More »

Jianbin Chen – Yi ge shao zi AKA A Fool (2014)

Latiaozi was a Farmer who made a living with shepherding with his wife Jinzhizi. One day, their only son had been condemned for the crime. The couple scrabbled up 50000 Yuan to ask Li Datou, the able person of the town, for help, begging if Li Datou could find some big shot to reduce the penalty of their son. But they had been cheated. Latiaozi went to Li Datou’s home to argue for his money but he failed. On his way home, he met a fool by accident. He had no choice but to pick him home. After a night spent in sheepfold, the fool was sent back to the town… Read More »

Pema Tseden – ‘Tsol AKA Xunzhao zhimei gengdeng AKA The Search (2009)

Cinema-scope.com:
This film uses perfectly framed long takes, from a largely distant yet intimately engaged camera, to tell the story of a film crew driving around Tibet looking for actors to play in a filmed version of the opera. It wraps this quest around two concurrent love stories, and the whole becomes a masterpiece of understated emotional longing set against an urgent desire to preserve a disappearing culture. Read More »

Pema Tseden – Khyi rgan AKA Lao Gou AKA Old Dog (2011)

Summary from Icarus Films:
A family on the Himalayan plains discovers their dog is worth a fortune, but selling it comes at a terrible price.

The Tibetan nomad mastiff is an exotic prize dog in China, fetching as much as millions of dollars from wealthy Chinese. When a young man notices several thefts of mastiffs from Tibetan farm families, he decides to sell his family’s dog before it is stolen and sold on the black market. His father, an aging Tibetan herder, is furious when he discovers their dog missing. When the father seeks to buy the dog back, it leads to a series of tragicomic events that threaten to tear the family apart, while showing the erosion of Tibetan culture under the pressures of contemporary society. Read More »

Xu Xin – Karamay (2010)

The film opens on the morning of December 8th 2007, in Karamay’s Xiaoxihu cemetery. Daybreak casts a cold grey light over faraway mountains and the Gobi sands. As the camera moves from grave to grave, it zeroes in on the photographs encased in glass on every tombstone. All are of children. Exactly 13 years ago, Karamay’s Friendship Hall was the site of a horrible tragedy: nearly 800 grade and middle-school students and their teachers, hand-picked to entertain a delegation of education officials, were in the midst of a performance when a fire broke out in the hall. Read More »