Richard Peña is a Professor of Film Studies at Columbia University, where he specializes in film theory and international cinema. From 1988 to 2012, he … Read more
Retracing the history of Chinese cinema is like retracing the history of contemporary China. Related articles: Interview with Jia Zhangke, Interview with Wang Xiaoshuai, Interview … Read more
In 2001, in the impoverished Chinese industrial city of Datong, a young dancer named Qiao falls in love with Bin, a local mobster. During a fight between rival gangs, Qiao fires a shot to protect Bin and subsequently gets sentenced to five years in prison. Upon her release, Qiao goes looking for Bin to try and start all over again.
Country girl Yu Hong leaves her village, her family and her lover to study in Beijing. At university, she discovers an intense world of sexual freedom and forbidden pleasure. Enraptured, compulsive, she falls madly in love with fellow student Zhou Wei. Driven by obsessive passions they can neither understand nor control, their relationship becomes one of dangerous games – betrayals, recriminations, provocations – as all around them, their fellow students begin to demonstrate, demanding democracy … Read more
Often cited as China’s first independent feature film, this low-budget drama, filmed largely in the director’s Beijing apartment, depicts the life of a single mother (a topic considered taboo at the time) caring for her mentally challenged son. Shot with a documentary aesthetic that includes interviews with families of mentally challenged persons, the film helped kick-start the Sixth Generation of filmmakers (including Wang Xiaoshuai and Jia Zhangke) and their ethos of employing documentary realism to … Read more
Set against the background of unregulated coalmining in northern China, the protagonist Guansheng must deal with an unquiet conscience when his mentor, Zhongmin, dies in a mine explosion. Zhongmin’s ghost returns with a request which motivates Guansheng out of his lethargy but which will try him to the depths of his soul. (Adelaide Film Festival)
A prostitute from the Northeast, desperate and unable to make ends meet, abandons her baby. An unemployed factory worker decides to take the child for the 200 yuan (about $37 Canadian) a month in child support promised by its mother. His early attempts at child-rearing are somewhat painful to watch, but also charming and amusing. Eventually, he and the mother become friendly and it seems that the child will be raised in a sweetly unorthodox … Read more