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An Overview of Chinese Nominations at Busan Film Festival (Part I)  

These are the Chinese films that have been nominated for the Busan Film Festival.

Gabi Verberg

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From Chinese dissident filmmakers to government-funded films, you can find it all at Busan, Asia’s biggest film festival. In the weeks leading up to the event, What’s on Weibo’s Gabi Verberg provides an overview of the Chinese nominees. This week: part I.

On the 4th of October, the 23th Busan International Film Festival in South Korea will roll out its red carpet to open this year’s film festival season in Asia. With the screening of 323 films from 79 countries, it is one of Asia’s biggest international film festivals, with China as one of the main suppliers of films.

Popular sections of the festival include:

– ‘A Window on Asian Cinema’, which showcases new and representative films by Asian filmmakers;
– ‘New Current’, which features the first or the second work by future directors of Asian cinema; and
– ‘Wide Angle‘, an assembly of documentaries, short films, Cinekid, and showcases.
It is these three sections in which most Chinese directors received their nominations.

In the upcoming weeks, we will provide you with more in-depth information on the Chinese films nominated for the festival. Please note that most of these films have not been officially released yet, so it might take some time before the (subtitled) films are available for all audiences.

This week, we will introduce to you to the first five of the Chinese nominees.

 

1. Savages (Xuěbào 雪暴)

China Mainland
Genre: Drama, Action, Crime, Suspense
Selected in the category: New Currents
Director: Siwei Cui (崔斯韦)
Weibo hashtag: #雪暴# (240.000+ views)
Premiere: October 2018, Busan International Film Festival

Starring: Chen Chang (张震), Nini (倪妮), Fan Liao (廖凡), Jue Huang (黄觉), Hua Liu (刘桦), Guangjie Li (李光洁), Taili Wang (王太利), Xiaojun Yue (岳小军), Yicong Zhang (张弈聪)

About the Director:

Siwei Cui is best known for his successes as a screenwriter. In 2009, he got nominated for best screenplay at the Chinese Film Media Awards, and for best script at the Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival for his work Crazy Racer (疯狂的赛车). Other works he wrote include The Island ( 一出好戏), which is selected in the A Window on Asian Cinema section at this year’s Busan Film Festival, and No Man’s Land (无人区). Siwei Cui once before directed a film in 2013 in cooperation with Zusong Lü (吕祖松) named Piano Trojan (钢琴木马). Savages will be his second work as a director.

Storyline:

Set against the backdrop of a desolate mountain village in the midst of a snow storm, a confrontation between the police and a criminal gang goes down.

Why you should watch it:

It is interesting to see how a relatively unexperienced director assembled so many well-known actors, including Nini (20 million followers on Weibo), Guangjie Li (5.51 million followers on Weibo), Jue Huang (3.73 million followers on Weibo) and Chen Chang (1.69 million followers on Weibo).

 

2. Vanishing Days (Mànyóu 漫游)

China Mainland
Genre: Drama
Selected in the category: New Currents
Director: Xin Zhu (祝新)
Premiere: October 2018, Busan International Film Festival

Main Characters: Yan Jiang (姜郦), Jing Huang (黄菁), Yan Chen (陈燕), Xiaoxing Li (李小杏), Haiqing Luo (骆海清), Jiehe Lu (卢嘉禾), Jiajun Zhao (赵家俊)

About the Director:

The young director Xin Zhu was born in 1996 and recently graduated from the Film and Television Department of the China Academy of Art. His first short film Community (午山社区) was nominated for an Exploration Award at the Amphibia Youth Film Festival (双栖青年影展). Other works of Xin Zhu are the short films A Folk Song (山野之歌) and Homesick (嘉年华). Vanishing Days is Xin Zhu’s first feature film.

Storyline:

The film is set in a crazy hot summer in 2009. Li Senlin struggles with her essay project, when Aunt Qiuqiu suddenly pays a visit. Reality and memory entangle as her aunt recalls a strange homicide case on a deserted island, while everyone else seems more concerned about the heat.

Why you should watch it:

Xin Zhu is amongst the youngest directors at the Busan Film Festival, and instead of professionals, Xin casted amateur actors for this film. The blog Deep Focus also mentions director Xin Zhu when they talk about the start of ‘a new wave’ of Chinese directors – those born after 1995. Xin Zhu uses an unclear tone to, presumably, let the viewers again experience the feeling of novelty, surprise, and doubt we had when we were younger. The film is full of mismatched stories, dreams and fantasy.

 

3. A Family Tour (Zìyóu xíng 自由行)

Taiwan/China Mainland/Hong Kong/Singapore/Malaysia
Genre: Drama
Selected in the category: A Window on Asian Cinema
Director: Liang Ying (应亮)
Premiere: 1st August 2018 on Locarno International Film Festival

Main Characters: Zhe Gong (宫哲), An Nai (耐安)

About the Director:

It’s not the first time Liang Ying attends an international film festival. In 2012, he was nominated for a Golden Leopard Award and won an award for best direction at the Locarno International Film Festival for his film When Night Falls (我还有话要说). It is this award-winning film that caused Liang Ying to flee the country after the government allgedly intimidated him and his family members to sell the government the rights of the film. Liang Ying refused, and then continued to live in exile in Hong Kong. A few years later, he won an award at the Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival for his work A Sunny Day (九月二十八日·晴) in the category Best Short Feature Film. Liang Ying’s other famous works include The Other Half (另一半), and Taking Father Home (背鸭子的男孩) – which both received nominations from film festivals worldwide.

Storyline:

The film revolves around Yang Shu, a Chinese director, who has been exiled from Hong Kong for making a film that offended the government. After 5 years, she desperately wants to reunite with her ailing mother who is visiting Taiwan and let her hold the grandson she misses.

Why you should watch it:

The story is semi-biographical from the director’s experiences since his exile from China in 2012. Variety wrote about the film: “[it is an] intelligently affecting story of exile and displacement,” and said it is “Ying Liang’s most highly polished film to date.” Indiewire called the film “heartbreaking.” The film was nominated for the Golden Leopard Award at the 71st Locarno International Film Festival.

 

4. The Enigma of Arrival (Dǐdá zhī mí 抵达之谜)

Mainland China
Genre: Crime
Selected in the category: A Window on Asian Cinema
Director: Song Wen (宋文)
Reads on Weibo: 35000 (#抵达之谜#)
Premiere: October 2018, Busan International Film Festival

Starring: Xian Li (李现), Borui Dong (董博睿), Xuan Gu (顾璇)

About the Director:

Some might know director Song Wen as the founder of FIRST International Film Festival, a festival for young directors, which celebrated its 12th edition this year. In 2015 Song Wen started his career as a producer and director. The Enigma of Arrival is his first work.

Storyline:

After many years, a group of high school friends reunites. They have not seen each other since the disappearance of Dondong, a girl they all secretly fancied. The circumstances of her disappearance cause the end of their friendship. Although a long time has passed, there are still things unspoken about what exactly happened during those crucial years.

Why you should watch it:

The main character in the film is played by the popular young actor Xian Li (李现), who currently has over 3.8 million followers on Weibo. He is best known for his roles in Chinese TV dramas such as Medical Examiner Dr. Qin. The second reason to watch this film is the contribution of Berlin Film Festival and The Golden Rooster award-winning producer Fei Xie (谢飞). He and Song Wen have been closely cooperating for this work for over three years.

 

5. Jinpa (Zhuàng Sǐle Yī Zhǐ Yáng 撞死了一只羊)

China Mainland
Genre: Drama
Selected in the category: A Window on Asian Cinema
Director: Pema Tseden (万玛才旦)
Weibo Reads: 340.000 (#撞死了一只羊#)
Premiere: 4th September 2018, Venice International Film Festival

Leading Actors: Jinpa (金巴), Genden Phuntsok (更登彭措), Sonam Wangmo (索朗旺姆)

About the Director:

Pema Tseden is an acknowledged director, screenwriter, producer and writer from Tibet. He started his career as a writer and started publishing stories in 1991. In the years that followed he published more than forty short stories in Tibetan and Chinese. His writing has been acknowledged with many awards. In 2002. he first entered the film industry as editor of the film The Silent Holy Stone (静静的嘛呢石) which received international attention. This is where Pema Tseden’s film career took off. His famous other works include The Search (寻找智美更登) and Tharlo (塔洛) which both received several nominations from in and outside China.

Storyline:

On a dusty highroad in Tibet, a truck-driver gives a young man a ride. As he chats with the hitchhiker, he notices a knife strapped to his leg…

Why you should watch it:

The film is an adaption of the short story Killer (杀手) by Cirenluobo (次仁罗布), and from a short story of the director himself. They are both rewarded writers from Tibet who give a rare glimpse into the lives of the Tibet people. Jinpa was shortlisted for this year’s 75th Venice International Film Festival in the Orizzonti section.

Stayed tuned for more! Meanwhile, also check out our must-see Chinese film list of 2017 here.

By Gabi Verberg

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us.

©2018 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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Gabi Verberg is a Business graduate from the University of Amsterdam who has worked and studied in Shanghai and Beijing. She now lives in Amsterdam and works as a part-time translator, with a particular interest in Chinese modern culture and politics.

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China Arts & Entertainment

Famous Chinese Nursery Song “One Penny” Inflates to “One Yuan”

One penny becomes one yuan in this children’s song. What’s next – changing it to QR codes?

Manya Koetse

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Famous Chinese children’s song “One Penny” (一分钱) has changed its penny to a Chinese yuan ($0.15).

The lyrics to the song are now published online and in children’s books with the different lyrics, Chinese news platform City Bulletin (@都市快报) reports on Weibo.

The altered text in a children’s book.

The classic song, in translation, says:

I found a penny on the street,
And handed it over to Uncle Policeman.
The Uncle Policeman took the penny,
And nodded his head at me.
I happily said: “Uncle, goodbye!

The song, by Chinese composer Pan Zhensheng (潘振声), is known throughout China. It came out in 1963.

Apparently, in present-day China, nobody would go through so much hassle for a penny anymore, and so the text was altered (although it is very doubtful people would go through the trouble for one yuan either).

The penny coin (0.01) in renminbi was first issued in 1957, and is somewhat rare to come across these days. “It’s probably even worth more than one yuan now,” some netizens argue.

Chinese media report that composer Pan Zhensheng said the song is just an innocent children’s song, and that it should not be affected by price inflation. Sina News also quoted the composer in saying that changing the text is “not respectful.”

Although some Chinese netizens think the change in the song is just normal modern development, others do not agree at all. In Hangzhou, some say, all you can find on the streets nowadays is QR codes rather than coins. Surely the song should not incorporate those new developments either?

Some commenters on Weibo say the song would never be realistic in China’s current cashless society anyway: “Kids nowadays are not finding cash money at all anymore!”

By Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. Please note that your comment below will need to be manually approved if you’re a first-time poster here.

©2019 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com

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Chinese TV Dramas

Controversy over Scene in Anti-Japanese War Drama Featuring Black U.S. Soldier and Chinese Nurse

Some scenes from this anti-Japanese war drama have angered Chinese netizens over ‘historical nihilism.’

Manya Koetse

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A black soldier comes to China from afar during WWII and falls in love with a Chinese villager who sacrifices her life for him. This war drama is sensationalizing the Sino-Japanese War in the wrong way, many netizens say.

“I love you, I love China,” a black man tells a Chinese woman in a clip of an anti-Japanese war drama that has gone viral on Chinese social media over the past few days (watch clip in embedded tweet below).

The scene is set on a mountain, where the man and woman hold hands when she tells him to flee from the “Japanese devils.” She repeats: “Remember: love me, love China.”

The love scene takes a dramatic turn when the two get ambushed by the Japanese army. The Chinese woman immediately pushes the man off the mountain to bring him to safety. While she cries out “love me, love China” she is attacked by Japanese soldiers and dies.

The scene comes from a 2016 TV drama titled The Great Rescue of The Flying Tigers (飞虎队大营救). The drama tells the story of Japanese soldiers chasing surviving members of a Flying Tigers aircraft after they shot it down. Various soldiers and army staff on the Chinese side try to rescue the fighters from the hands of the Japanese.

The drama’s portrayal of a romance between the foreign soldier and a Chinese woman, on the side of the Communist Eighth Route Army, has stirred controversy on Weibo this week.

“The director is retarded, this is historical nihilism,” one Weibo blogger writes.

Hundreds of netizens also criticize the drama’s director and screenwriters: “This is not even funny, what kind of scriptwriter comes up with this trash? This should be thoroughly investigated.”

The Flying Tigers (飞虎队) were a group of US fighter pilots who went to China during the final three years of the Second Sino-Japanese War to fight the Japanese invaders and defend China.

Flying Tigers.

The people behind the Flying Tigers belonged to the organization of the American Volunteer Group (AVG), who came together in 1941 to strengthen the Chinese Air Force.

In the now controversial TV drama The Great Rescue of The Flying Tigers, the black soldier is ‘Carl’ (Cedric Beugre), a surviving member of the Flying Tigers aircraft shut down by Japanese forces. The Chinese woman is ‘Xinghua,’ a female nurse who sacrifices her own life to save Carl.

The dialogues between Carl and Xinghua are pretty simple and at times almost ridiculous. While Xinghua does not speak a word of English and appears clueless, Carl is depicted as a stubborn, crude and somewhat silly character, who also seems to understand very little of what is happening around him and does all he can to be with his Xinghua after a brief meeting in the Chinese base camp (also see this scene or here).

On Chinese social media, the drama is critiqued for being a so-called ‘divine Anti-Japanese drama’ (抗日神剧): Chinese war dramas that sensationalize the history of the war by making up unrealistic and overly dramatic or funny scenes and storylines.

In 2015, China’s State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film, and Television (SAPPRFT) announced a limit on these kinds of TV dramas that sensationalize the history of war, and in doing so ‘misrepresent history’ and ‘disrespect’ the Chinese soldiers who fought to defend the nation (read more).

TV series focusing on war are part of China’s every day (prime time) TV schedules. These Chinese war dramas are called “Anti-Japanese War Dramas” (抗日电视剧), literally referring to the period of ‘resisting Japan’ during WWII (in China, the 1937-1945 war is called The War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression 中国抗日战争).

The 40-episode series The Great Rescue of the Flying Tigers was aired by Yunnan City Channel but is also available online. Since there are countless reruns of Anti-Japanese war dramas on Chinese tv, it is possible that some viewers only now viewed the 2016 drama for the first time.

Some netizens call this a “new kind of fantasy war drama”, summarizing: “A black man comes from far away to China to fight Japan, falls in love with a Chinese nurse who sacrifices her own life for him and yells ‘Love me love China’ before she dies.”

Many on social media call the script “idiotic,” others question if black soldiers ever joined the Flying Tigers in the first place.

There seems to be more to the controversy than sensationalizing history alone though – relationships between foreign men and Chinese women, especially black men and Chinese women, are often met with prejudice and racism on Chinese social media. Mixing such a narrative in a drama about the Second Sino-Japanese war makes it all the more controversial.

Some see the narrative of the love between a foreign soldier and a Chinese woman as a way of ‘beautifying’ the war and ‘adoring everything that’s foreign.’

“This is not respecting history at all!”, one among hundreds of commenters says.

In the TV drama, the sentence “Love me, Love China” does have some extra meaning in the end. Although Xinghua sacrifices her life for Carl in episode 19, he eventually chooses to fight side by side against the Japanese ‘devils’ with the Chinese army, keeping his promise to “love China” like he loved Xinghua.

By Manya Koetse , with contributions from Miranda Barnes

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. Please note that your comment below will need to be manually approved if you’re a first-time poster here.

©2019 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com

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