In the New Yorker, Richard Brody reviews Ying Liang’s award-winning new feature When Night Falls, which has yet to be screened in the US:
“It’s a fictionalized account of a true story, concerning a young man, Yang Jia, who was convicted, in 2008, of stabbing and slashing six police officers to death. Later in the year, he was executed… Meanwhile, his mother, Wang Jingmei, wasâ€šÃ„Ã®as soon as she was informed of his arrestâ€šÃ„Ã®hustled off to a mental hospital, compelled to sign official documents against her will and better judgment (and without benefit of legal counsel), and held there for a hundred and forty-three days. Then she was hustled off again to the prison where her son was being held. After a brief visit with him, she was sent home to Beijing.”
Brody also ties the film to Ying Liang’s earlier feature The Other Half, distributed by dGenerate:
“Ying is fascinated by the functioning of law in China. His second feature, â€šÃ„ÃºThe Other Half,â€šÃ„Ã¹ is centered on a provincial law office, where the documents that cross the protagonists’ desk offer a sense of the roiling chaos beneath the official surface of order. (It’s distributed here by dGenerate Films, an indispensable source for contemporary Chinese independent films as well as for information about the film, the filmmaker, and his recent travails.) In â€šÃ„ÃºWhen Night Falls,â€šÃ„Ã¹ Ying’s direction is even more severely controlled and precise; it’s as if his tensely concentrated attention to Wang and the minutiae of her quest, including her carefully handwritten legal filings and her quest to photocopy and mail them, calls more clamorous attention to the entire silenced world of political pressure, manipulations, decisionsâ€šÃ„Ã®the entire dehumanized yet despicably human mechanism of powerâ€šÃ„Ã®to which she and her son are subjected.”
Read more at the New Yorker.