Ming Zhang – Wu shan yun yu AKA Rainclouds over Wushan (1996)

Mai Qiang is a 30-year old bachelor, withdrawn, with little in his life besides his job at an isolated signal station along the Yangtze River and his ink drawings he uses as toilet paper. Chen Qing is a hotel clerk, a widow with a young child and an undemanding relationship with her boss Lao Mo. Lao believes she has been raped, so he reports the crime to Wu Gang, the neighborhood cop. Wu investigates, but Chen is uncooperative. Lao then identifies Mai, who is detained and questioned. After Wu gets to the truth of the incident, Mai tries to break out of his loneliness and connect to Chen. Read More »

Yimou Zhang – Yi miao zhong AKA One Second (2020)

A traveller in China’s far west in 1975 crosses paths with a young girl. They both have an interest in a film that is being screened in the area, but for different reasons.

Scott Mariner wrote:
Censors in Beijing have approved the release for November 27, following a year-long effort to rework the film to please the government. One Second was originally intended to premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2019. However it was pulled at the last minute with producers claiming “technical issues” — a common euphemism for Chinese government censorship. The incident was a shock to the international film community and indicated that the propaganda department’s recent takeover of the Chinese film industry means the government will be taking a much more heavy handed role in dictating what artists can and cannot create. Read More »

Jinchuan Duan – Barkhor nan jie 16 hao (1996)

No.16, Barkhor Street is an old courtyard in the heart of Lhasa and the site of the office of the Barkhor Neighborhood Committee. This masterful cinema verité documentary, the landmark work in the history of independent documentaries about Tibet, provides is a photographic study of rich insight into the basic workings of government in Tibet as it that follows the local Party Secretary, Deputy Director, Director for Women’s Affairs, and Community Policeman, among others, as they implement official policies and manage neighborhood affairs.
– Maysles Documentary Center Read More »

Yang Zhang – Xiang ri kui AKA Sunflower (2005)

Like Douglas Sirk without the throw pillows, “Sunflower” is a shamelessly old-fashioned melodrama performed with such sincerity that resistance is futile. Following a troubled father-son relationship over more than 30 years in post-Cultural Revolution Beijing, the movie utilizes a simple dramatic structure to support a narrative filled with tumultuous social change. Read More »

Lhapal Gyal – Wang Zha de yuxue AKA Wangdrak’s Rain Boots (2018)

After heavy rains, puddles and mud cover the streets of the Tibetan mountain village. It’s good for the crops, but bad for young Wangdrak, the only boy in the village without rubber boots. While his father is busy with other worries, Wangdrak’s mother fulfills her son’s wish. But new shoes bring new problems. For Wangdrak, a battle against the blue sky and for the rain begins, fought alongside his loyal friend Lhamo. Nestled in the inimitable mountain landscape, director Lhapal Gyal uses vivid imagery to show us a culture steeped in ancient traditions, paying special attention to the young protagonist’s dreams. Read More »

Chunya Chai – Wo guxiang siwang de si zhong fangshi AKA Four Ways to Die in My Hometown (2012)

Journalist-turned-filmmaker Chai Chunya was born in a village in Gansu, the Chinese province adjoining Tibet, and he returned there to shoot this remarkable debut feature. The story he tells is poetic, even fanciful: Ga Gui, a young woman who left to find education and work in the big city, visits her home village because she’s had a premonition that her elderly father is dying. She finds him preparing for death by sleeping in a makeshift coffin but also convinced that he has a mission to revive the community before the exodus of its young turns the place into a ghost town. Chai boldly goes beyond realism in his quest for the Buddhist essence of rural life in Gansu. The ’four ways to die’ are those associated with the elements: the windy air, the red-clay earth, fire, water. The film is chaptered around them as it moves from drama to meditation. Read More »

Xiaogang Gu – Chun Jiang Shui Nuan AKA Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains (2019) (HD)

At her 70th birthday celebration, the aged mother of the Gu family suffers from a stroke, which precipitates her decline into dementia. Who will take care of her? The four brothers face crucial changes in their relationships to one another, as they deal with their own family problems. Read More »