Thursday, February 10, 2011

News Bites: Changes Afoot for Screening China & Zhao Liang's Together Selected for Berlin

Xin nian kuai le – or happy new year! Just got back from a week in China's far west visiting my wife's hometown for the festival of fireworks, food and crappy television galas that is Chunjie, or Chinese New Year. And with the arrival of the Year of the Rabbit some changes are afoot for Screening China.

First up is the news that I'll be relocating from my current home of Beijing to the clearer skies of Melbourne, Australia in late March, where I'll be taking up a doctorate at Monash University. The good news is I'll be researching in the area of Chinese film and working towards a planned book. I'll also be regularly in and out of China over the next couple of years visiting family and friends, and carrying out further research for the project.

Screening China will definitely still be going – in fact I'm hoping to be able to post more often in 20111. Rather than focusing exclusively on the longer form essays and reviews I've been featuring throughout 2010, readers can expect more short posts collating the latest Chinese film news from around the web. That doesn't mean the longer posts will stop – they'll just be interspersed with more bite-sized news bites.

In that vein I noticed today that Zhao Liang's new documentary Together – which I wrote about here – has been selected for this year's Berlin International Film Festival. The film is screening several times between February 14-19. Readers who happen to be in Germany for the festival can see the times here.

As far as I know Together is the first of Zhao's films to be selected for Berlin, which is ironic given that it's far from his strongest film. Nevertheless it's great exposure for one of China's most important contemporary documentary makers.

The only other mainland movies screening at Berlin this year are Zhang Yimou's Under the Hawthorn Tree and Chen Kaige's Sacrifice – rather uninspired and conservative choices from two directors well past their prime. Hong Kong's Dante Lam also has a film in the program called The Stool Pigeon.

For Beijing-based readers, Zhao Liang will be appearing this Saturday (February 12) for a Q&A after a 5pm screening of Together at Beijing's BC MOMA cinema. The film will screen with English  subtitles. Director Gu Changwei will also be on hand, as Together is partly a “making of” documentary about Gu's up-coming feature Life is a Miracle.

In other festival news, the full program of this year's Hong Kong International Film Festival will be announced on February 24, and tickets will go on sale on February 26. The festival runs from March 20 to April 5. Keep an eye on the festival site for further details.

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