Monday, June 21, 2010

From the Dark Side of Economic Success: Zhao Liang's Petition and Guo Xiaolu's Once Upon a Time Proletarian

From the latest issue of the Australian art magazine RealTime.

“Bring down corruption, give me my human rights!” That’s the plaintive cry heard near the beginning of Zhao Liang’s film Petition (pictured left), a disturbing look at the brutality, violence and intimidation surrounding those seeking justice in contemporary China. Guo Xiaolu’s Once Upon a Time Proletarian similarly continues the Chinese independent documentary tradition of probing what lies behind the glittering facades of China’s economic success. Both films appeared at the recent Hong Kong International Film Festival, the only place in the People’s Republic where such critical works can play at such high profile events.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A Black, Absurdist Take on Modern China: Zhao Dayong’s The High Life

Recently I had the opportunity to see Zhao Dayong’s The High Life (pictured left) on DVD, my second viewing after a screening at the Hong Kong International Film Festival back in April, where the film scooped the FIRPRESCI Critics’ Jury Prize and the Silver Award in the Asian Digital Competition. I’d enjoyed the film in Hong Kong, but as so often happens at festivals there was little time to reflect on it before it was swept away by the sights and sounds of another half dozen movies in the days following. Happily, my positive impression of the film was only reinforced by a second viewing on DVD.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

A Whole Other Way of Being: Yang Rui’s Crossing the Mountain

On May 15 I attended the Beijing debut of Yang Rui's first dramatic feature, the strange, experimental  Crossing the Mountain, screened as part of BC MOMA's ongoing “Young Chinese Filmmakers” showcase.