Programmed by Lily Min Ren
In the transitional years preceding and following the turn of the millennium, Chinese filmmakers converged on a common theme: the loss of the private individual. But rather than depicting this loss through the raw portrayal of brutal conflict, these films transformed the representation of social violence by turning their attention onto the repressed emotional undercurrents that ran under everyday existence. With many of these films still censored or banned in Mainland China, this is also a series about political resistance and the honesty of the cinematic eye. Acclaimed for their strong visual styles, intimate cinematography, and emotional sensitivity, the filmmakers featured here--such as Edward Yang, Hou Hsiao-hsien, Lou Ye, and Jia Zhang-ke--have comprised a formidable and luminous force in world cinema since the 90s. These films are windows, onto the faces of the mind-bogglingly complex mammoth that is Chinese society, and onto the tender, time-honored, and tortured experiences of human existence. This series is a heartbreaking and stunning journey through the lens of Chinese filmmakers working in the 90s and beyond.
(Zhang Yimou, 1991) · This sumptuously photographed drama, set in Northern China in the 1920s and based on the novel Wives and Concubines by Su Tong, stars the great Gong Li as Songlian, the fourth wife of an elderly landlord. Raise the Red Lantern is a moving exploration of power in a suffocating world of ossified tradition and naked ambition--a masterpiece of 1990s world cinema that solidified Zhang Yimou's status as one of world cinema's leading auteurs. Print courtesy of the Academy Film Archive
runtime: 126m format: Archival 35mm
(Hou Hsiao-Hsien, 1995) · Actress Liang Ching (Annie Shizuka Inoh) prepares to star in the titular film-within-film, a historical drama about young Taiwanese Communists, yet pages of her stolen diary come to her by fax, telling the story of her romance with a small-time gangster who was killed in her arms, prompting flashbacks to those days and nights of love. Personal and historical memory intertwines with intimate and ideological passion in Hou's sinuous, meticulously constructed tableaux, which unfold hypnotically. 35mm collection print courtesy of the UCLA Film & Television Archive
runtime: 108m format: Archival 35mm
(Hou Hsiao-Hsien, 1996) · In the tradition of Scorsese's Mean Streets, Goodbye South, Goodbye explores the world of small-time crime in the suburban backwaters of Taipei. The film follows the luckless entrepreneurial ventures of Kao (Jack Kao) and his misfit cohort Flat Head (Lim Giong). Kao devises a plan to raise money by trading subsidized pigs to the government for cash. The ruse works, but when the temperamental Flat Head antagonizes the wrong people, the two are caught up in a dangerous game of corrupt politics. 35mm collection print courtesy of the UCLA Film & Television Archive
runtime: 116m format: Archival 35mm
(Edward Yang, 1985) · A mournful anatomy of a city caught between the past and the present, Taipei Story chronicles 119 min the growing estrangement between a washed-up baseball player (Hou Hsiao-Hsien) working in his family's textile business and his girlfriend (Tsai Chin), who clings to the upward mobility of her career in property development. As the couple's dreams of marriage and emigration begin to unravel, Yang's gaze illuminates the precariousness of domestic life and the desperation of Taiwan's globalized modernity.
runtime: 119m format: DCP
(Edward Yang, 1991) · Among the most praised titles in contemporary cinema, this masterpiece of Taiwanese cinema is set in the early 60s in Taiwan, and is based on the true story of a crime that rocked the nation. A film of both sprawling scope and tender intimacy, this novelistic, patiently observed epic centers on the gradual, inexorable fall of a young teenager (Chen Chang) from innocence into delinquency, and is set against a simmering backdrop of restless youth, rock and roll, and political turmoil.
runtime: 237m format: DCP
(Hou Hsiao-Hsien, 2001) · The ethereally beautiful Vicky (Shu Qi) drifts through her empty life in the neon-lit, sprawling metropolis of Taipei, Taiwan, maintaining a pointless relationship with her DJ boyfriend (Tuan Chun-hao) and an unsatisfying career as a nightclub hostess. As her romance becomes increasingly strained, she takes up with Jack (Jack Kao), a caring but criminally connected businessman. Hou's first film in a contemporary setting, Millennium Mambo is permeated by the elegaic atmosphere of melancholy for which he is renowned.
runtime: 105m format: Archival 35mm
(Lou Ye, 2003) · The singular vision of director Lou Ye, one of contemporary China's most politically outspoken filmmakers, is on full display throughout this mind-warping interrogation of time, trauma, and history. Ding Hui is a member of Purple Butterfly, a powerful resistance group in Japanese-occupied Shanghai. An unexpected encounter reunites her with Itami, an ex-lover and officer of a secret police unit tasked with dismantling Purple Butterfly, setting the stage for a tragic collision course between romance and politics.
runtime: 127m format: 35mm
(Lou Ye, 2006) · Director Lou Ye's third film, Summer Palace, was banned for breaking not one, but two serious taboos in Chinese cinema. A first in Mainland Chinese cinema to depict female nudity and sex, this story of the vibrant heroine, Yu Hong (with a stunning performance from Hao Lei), focuses on her star-crossed romance amid the democracy protests of 1989, which culminated in the infamous Tiananmen Square massacre. 2019 marks the 30-year anniversary of the 89' protests.
runtime: 140m format: 35mm
(Jia Zhangke, 2015) · On the cusp of the capitalist explosion in China, Shen Tao has two suitors: Zhang, an aspiring entrepreneur, and his best friend Liangzi, who works in a coal mine. Shen Tao decides to marry Zhang--a man with a future. At once an intimate drama and a decades-spanning epic that leaps from the recent past to the present to the speculative near-future, Mountains May Depart is a moving study of how China's culture of materialism has affected the bonds of family, tradition, and love.
runtime: 131m format: DCP
(Bi Gan, 2015) · A stunning, dreamlike debut, Kaili Blues is about a country doctor's search for an abandoned child that takes him to a mysterious place where past, present and future become one. Among intense blues and greens, the saturated, tangibly thick light and shade of the settings, the impossible visions of twirling, ever-present disco mirror balls, Bi gives us elegant all-encompassing paneos, impeccable framing and a continuous single take of more than 40 minutes that would be the envy of Lubezki and Iñárritu.
runtime: 113m format: DCP