To commemorate the film series Chinese Realities / Documentary Visions at the Museum of Modern Art(May 8-June 1), each day this month this blog will publish a brief primer on one of the 28 films selected in the series.
Chunmeng (Longing for the Rain)
2013. China. Directed by Yang Lina. With Siyuan Zhao, Jia Fu, Pong paz roj Dej.
Over the last 15 years, Yang Lina made her name as one of China’s most notable women documentarians. Her first narrative feature, in which a Beijing housewife is seduced by a mysterious phantom lover who threatens to destroy her comfortable middle-class life, is a daring hybrid of genres, mixing an erotic ghost story with a deeply personal religious quest. Yang’s surreal depiction of female sexuality is made even stranger by moments of social documentary, yielding a highly original vision of subjective desires commingling with China’s contemporary reality.
Excerpts from select reviews and writings:
The film reveals an urban middle-class malaise which is rarely touched upon in Chinese cinema, be it mainstream or independent: the former mostly subject female characters as either lovelorn figures in romantic dramas or comedies, while the latter usually situate women as individuals caught in the maelstrom of social changes sweeping across a country rushing towards its embrace of a market economy. Female physical desire has largely been marginalized, Yang said.
- Clarence Tsui, The Hollywood Reporter