Films - Chinese Cinema Season


Independent distributor Trinity Cineasia together with Filming East Festival and UK-China Film Collab announce the first wave of titles and sections for the first edition of the Chinese Cinema Season, available to watch online...


Press Release

Launched last week on 12th February (Chinese New Year) and running for three months, Chinese Cinema Season will be the biggest online screening event that specialises in Chinese language films in the UK and Europe. The season promises to showcase Chinese language films never seen before in the UK and highlight overlooked gems to cinema-lovers in the UK and Ireland.

Over 50 films will be on offer over the course of the season, giving the opportunity for audiences to access to the best of Chinese cinema, and enriching the diversity of films available on VOD. The season will be divided into themed sections and mini retrospectives, with the aims of recontextualising titles, enriching UK lockdown life and presenting Chinese culture in a fresh way with new perspectives. Ultimately, the season is a love letter to Chinese Cinema.

Currently there are 20 films available and new titles will be added each week, each staying on the platform for one to two weeks at a time. The festival will open with four sections: Shanghai Animation Film Studio Retro, Approaching Reality, Debut Spotlight and Domestic Hits. These will later be joined by Lou Ye Mini Retro, Hong Kong Reimagined, Cinephilia Forever and some forthcoming surprises. The festival is offering individual tickets for films as well as season passes, with some films available to watch for free.

Alongside the films on show, there will be Q&As and panel discussions with industry professionals, filmmakers and actors, and academics.

Speaking on the launch of Chinese Cinema Season, Trinity Cineasia managing director Cedric Behrel said, “In this great lull for cinemas, we have been thinking of how we could engage with our audience in a more meaningful and sustained way, sharing not only recent releases, but our deeper love for Chinese cinema over decades of history. Conversations with UK-Film Collab and Filming East Festival kickstarted this notion of something longer than a festival, that is more suited to the extended periods we have had to stay at home – a season. We hope this ambitious, three-month long programme will provide an opportunity for enjoyment to everyone – from the familiar faces, narratives and directors to the excitement of discovering little seen or new gems. It is very fitting that this inaugural Chinese Cinema Season starts with the magical works of Shanghai Animation Film Studio. We could not be more delighted than to present them in their glorious 2k restoration, for the first time ever outside China.”

The film viewing website is powered by Shift 72 and tickets can be purchased now at www.chinesefilm.uk 

Here's some more information about the films on offer:


Shanghai Animation Film Studio Retro - 12th February until 28th February

The Shanghai Animation Film Studio Retro section will showcase 10 Chinese animation classics dated from the 1950s to the present. All films have recently been remastered to the highest quality (2K) and will appear in the UK for the very first time. SAFS is the oldest and the most respected animation studio in China.

While animation fans in the West are more familiar with Japan’s Studio Ghibli, it in fact owes its inspiration to Chinese animation tradition. The master Hayao Miyazaki visited the Shanghai studio in 1984, before he set up his own a year later. Throughout the years, many in China have invited the master to deliver classes, but he always refused, saying “I don’t have anything to teach, you have the best studio in Shanghai. It is I that have to learn from the Shanghai studio.”

Iconic titles in this programme include The Monkey King: Havoc in Heaven (1961). Based on the well-known novel Journey to the West, taking almost four years to complete, its 3D restored version has been chosen to be the opening film at the Shanghai International Film Festival in 2019. The artistic and technical standard demonstrated by The Monkey King is extremely high; one that is yet to be met by other adaptation attempts since the 1960s. There will also be the opportunity to watch the original version of Ne Zha Conquers The Dragon King (1979) for the first time in the UK. BBC 2 aired the film in 1984 with an English dub, different soundtrack and credited the film as the work of a different director. Chinese Cinema Season is delighted to present the original version alongside a Q+A with the last surviving director of this influential classic.

Viewers will have a unique opportunity to learn about the tradition of Chinese animation which is aesthetically distinctive and certainly different from Disney. Art enthusiasts will appreciate traditional art techniques used in these films such as water-ink and papercutting. All films shown in this programme are hand-drawn and made, which brings a sense of warmness that is missing in contemporary computer-generated animation.

Fishing Child (1959, 30 mins) * UK PREMIERE *
Where is Mama? (1960, 15 mins) * UK PREMIERE *
Monkey King: Havoc in Heaven (1961, 92 mins) * UK PREMIERE OF ORIGINAL VERSION *
The Cowboy Flute (1963, 15 mins) * UK PREMIERE *
Golden Conch (1963, 35 mins) * UK PREMIERE *
Ne zhA Conquers the Dragon King (1979, 65 mins) * UK PREMIERE OF ORIGINAL VERSION *
The Story of Mr Nanguo (1981, 18 mins) * UK PREMIERE *
Feeling from Mountain and Water (1988, 20 mins) * UK PREMIERE *
Lotus Lantern (1999, 85 mins) * UK PREMIERE *
Black Cat Detective/Mr. Black (2010, 76 mins) * UK PREMIERE *




Approaching Reality - 12th February to 12th May


In this documentary section, four films will be released this month (with at least six more to come): Double Happiness Limited (2018), A Yangtze Landscape (2017), Bazzar Jumpers (2012), and Daughter of Shanghai (2019). These are documentaries focusing on different sides of Chinese society and Chinese culture: family and marriage, geographical landscape, minority youth groups, and the international diaspora female figure. This section is in collaboration between CCS and Cathayplay, an international Chinese documentary film platform.

Double Happiness Limited - Taiwanese director Shen spent seven years detailing eight couples’ lives from falling in love, getting married and having children, getting them to ask each other questions that they would not touch on in their daily lives, and leading the audience to reflect on their own definition of marriage and happiness.

A Yangtze Landscape - Setting off from the Yangtze's marine port, passing Shanghai, Nanjing, Wuhan, the huge Three Gorges Dam, and Chongqing, all the way to the Yangtze River's source in Qinghai/Tibet over thousands of kilometres, this unique work of sound and vision utilizes the "Yangtze", in the director’s words, as a metaphor of the current chaos in China.

Bazzar Jumpers - Three Uyghur buddies in love with parkour fight prejudice and family opposition to train for China’s most popular and dangerous parkour event in Beijing.

Daughter of Shanghai - A waltz through the life of Chinese English actress Tsai Chin: the daughter of the Peking Opera master Zhou Xinfang, the first Chinese student at RADA, and the first Chinese Bond Girl. The director Michelle Chen is confirmed to do a Q&A with other contributors TBC to celebrate the premiere of this film.

More exciting films will be announced for this section soon, including those of Wu Wenguang, the “father of Chinese independent documentary”. Audiences will have a rare opportunity to engage with the director with an exclusive Q&A section.




Debut Spotlight - 12th February to 12th May


This section introduces contemporary Chinese directors and their striking debuts. Three films will be shown in the opening month: A First Farewell (2018) by Lina Wang, The Crossing (2018) by Bai Xue, and The Silent Holy Stone (2006) by Pema Tseden. Encompassing Mandarin, Cantonese (The Crossing), Tibetan (The Silent Holy Stone ) and Uyghur (A First Farewell )dialects and cultures, these films reflect how diverse life can be in the different regions of China.

A First Farewell * UK PREMIERE * - Isa Yassan, a young Muslim boy in Xinjiang Province, balances caring for his ailing mother, schoolwork, and farm duties, soon experiences “the first farewell” in his life – as his father decides to send his mother to a nursing home and they leave the village. Lina Wang, from Xinjiang, wrote and directed this film, which won the Crystal Bear and Special Prize of the Generation Kplus International Jury at Berlin International Film Festival, as well as several other awards at Tokyo, Shanghai and Hong Kong film festivals. We are also thrilled to have director Lina Wang join us for an online Q&A to talk about her debut and what this film means to her personally.

The Crossing - Sixteen-year-old Peipei crosses the border between mainland China and Hong Kong every day, customs officials waving her through with just a glimpse of her high school uniform and innocent face. She joins a gang to earn quick money by smuggling iPhones across the border, but soon finds herself in way over her head. The debut from BAFTA Leading Light writer-director Bai Xue, was nominated for Best First Feature Award and Crystal Bear at Berlin International Festival, won the NETPAC Award at Toronto International Film Festival, and best first film awards at Pingyao, Hong Kong, and Dublin Film Festivals.

The Silent Holy Stone - A young Tibetan monk returns home for the New Year and discovers a television which he intends to bring to the monastery and show to his master. Tibetan director Pema Tsedan’s debut, immediately preceding his recent feature Balloon (2019), shows how the director established his personal style from the very beginning.



Domestic Hits - 12th February to 12th May


In recent years, the world has witnessed the rise of the Chinese mega-blockbuster and the seemingly unstoppable rise of the film industry in China. this section features commercial films that triumphed at the domestic box-office with relatively high production value. For the opening month the following are showing: Sheep Without a Shepherd (2019), Youth (2017), and The Captain (2019).

Sheep Without a Shepherd - Lee (Xiao Yang) and his wife Jade (Tan Zhuo) run a small video business in Thailand. They have two lovely daughters and live a happy life. However, when his eldest daughter kills a schoolmate in self-defence during a sexual assault, Lee has to bury the body and cover the truth, to protect his daughter and families, Lawan (an impeccably steely Joan Chen, The Last Emperor, Lust, Caution) is the feared head of the regional police, and she is dying to find her missing son. The contest between Lee and Lawan is beginning. The battle of wills between Lee and Lawan begins. The film’s box office reached more than 1.2 billion RMB in China ($185m), even as the start of the pandemic cut short the film’s release. The film is based on the 2015 Indian box office hit, Drishyam.

Youth - Directed by China’s most famous commercial director Feng Xiaogang, Youth takes a look at the lives of the members of a Military Cultural Troupe back in the 1970s Cultural Revolution, exploring their friendship, love, dreams, and devotion to their beloved collective and career. The storyline, to a large extent comprised of the director’s personal memories and nostalgia, also resonates with a generation in China who sacrificed their youth to the country and the ideology. The domestic box office of this film was 1.422 billion RMB ($220m).

The Captain - One of so-called “main melody” films, stemming from a true story, The Captain demonstrates a breath-taking moment: a commercial pilot and his crew try to save passengers and land their plane safely while the plane shatters at 30,000 feet in the air. Its box office reached more than 2 billion RMB in China (over $300m).


Currently Available Discussion Panels

Nine free discussion panels covering a wide range of industry and cultural topics will be organised by the UK-China Film Collab alongside the season to enrich its programme. The first four of these are detailed below. These panels will include high profile contributors including BBC presenter Professor Michael Wood, China enthusiast and ex-foreign policy advisor Lady Tessa Keswick, Mei Sim Lai OBE DL, Chair of Television Trust for the Environment, Chen Bo, Deputy Diector of Shanghai Animation Film Studio, Professor Rana Mitter, Director of the University of Oxford China Centre, Guanglei Jia, VP/China Business Executive at DNEG and many more.

The four panels are:
 
“International Reception of Chinese Language Films by Post-Millenials” (12 February) – explores how young international audiences engage with Chinese cinema based on recent research findings.
“British East/Southeast Asian Women in Film and TV” (19 February) – explores what more can these ethnic groups do to challenge, as well as contribute to, the British film and TV industry.
“Tradition and Innovation in Chinese Animation” (26 February) – in parallel to the “Shanghai Animation Film Studio Retro” programme, this panel provides a platform for attendees to engage with artists from the Studio.
“The Colour of the Sky After Rain: An Evening with Lady Tessa Keswick” (26 February) – a rare appearance by Lady Tessa Keswick about her new book and her almost 40 years of engagement with China and its culture.

Upcoming Sections

Lou Ye Mini Retrospective

As one of the “Sixth Generation” directors, Lou Ye has been regarded as a “true artist”, an “authentic filmmaker” and a “constant fighter” of censorship. Despite the controversies, he achieved great success both in China and worldwide. He was nominated and won numerous awards owing to his unique editing style and camera movement, as well as his sharp observations and narratives about marginalised people and typical, but often undocumented, social phenomena in China. In this section, we will premiere Lou Ye’s penultimate film, Shadow Play, which took two years of editing to get the greenlight from authorities.

Cinephilia Forever

A film festival or exhibition would not be complete without the classics, the soul of the event. CCS is preparing a list of Chinese classic titles, which will be a wonderful banquet for film lovers. Some will be from the vibrant and evolving 1980s and 1990s in mainland China, and have never been shown in the UK and Ireland; some of them are martial arts classics from the 1960s and 1970s in Hong Kong and Taiwan. Others are national treasures from the 1930s to 1950s, depicting the life and society of “old China”.

Hong Kong Reimagined

The “Hong Kong Reimagined” section has been thoughtfully curated by the UK-China Film Collab. Its daring and provocative curatorial ambition is to enter current public debate about the region with a list of films that have not been widely available in the UK.

As the largest recent showcase of Hong Kong cinema in the UK, this programme is a unique journey of Hong Kong people and their ways of resolving cultural conflict across different historical periods. Viewers will also experience how the British expat community have been represented in Hong Kong cinema throughout the history. To some, this will come as a shock. Hero or villain? The debate is open to all.

In partnership with the Academy of Film, Hong Kong Baptist University, four student films are included as part of the programme. Film students in the UK will be able to see fresh works by the latest talents from Hong Kong, for free. Thanks to the Academy, viewers will have an opportunity to participate in a series of Q&As with directors, such as Alex Law. The full programme will be announced in March and available from 6th April.

Upcoming Discussion Panels

There will be five further discussion panels in the latter half of the season:

“Film Data and Policy Between the UK & China” (5th March) – addresses how the UK can learn from China’s fast-growing third-party ticketing system, and how China can learn about data protection from the UK.
“The Future of Co-production Film Between the UK & China” (12th March) – explores whether a successful co-production film can be made between the two countries. If so, what will it look like? Attendees will have a chance to travel virtually to the second largest film studio in China, Xiangshan Global Studios.
“VR Immersive Experience R&D between the UK and China” (19th March) – will introduce the latest million-pound awarded project dedicated to the R&D in VR through a Sino-British collaboration.
“Opportunities for Documentary Filmmakers to Enter the Chinese Market” (26th March) – more and more British documentary talents are curious about working with Chinese counterparts. What are the opportunities and challenges? Hear from professionals who have been working with China, as well as the Head Programmer for Documentary at the Shanghai International Film Festival.
“The Future of Hong Kong’s Film Industry” (6th April) – the first time this topic will be discussed in the UK, this unique panel explores where Hong Kong cinema is headed. What will be the next film from the region that can reach a mass audience?

Find out more and book tickets at at www.chinesefilm.uk 

Images - courtesy Trinity CineAsia