Posts Tagged ‘betelnut’

This Week’s Events: Betelnut in Glasgow, Queer China in Claremont, and Ghost Town in Ithaca

Monday, March 7th, 2011

Betelnut (dir. Yang Heng)


Betelnut at the Centre for Contemporary Arts

Tuesday, March 8 at 7:00 PM

350 Sauchiehall Street
Glasgow, United Kingdom

“Pure cinema” – Susanna Harutyunyan, FIPRESCI – The International Federation of Film Critics

Exquisite!” – Tony Rayns, Film Comment

Along a sleepy Hunan riverside, two delinquent boys experience a summer of love and violence in Yang Heng’s visually stunning debut.

Tickets are free, they will be awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis. Call the CCA Box Office on 0141 352 4900 to reserve your ticket.

Queer China at Pomona College

Thursday, March 10

Pomona College
333 North College Way
Claremont, CA


Best Documentary at the Lisbon Gay and Lesbian Film Festival

Directed by Cui Zi’en, China’s leading queer theorist, activist and scholar, the documentary includes rarely seen footage of the first ever appearance of gays and lesbians on State television, including Cui Zi’en himself.

Ghost Town at Cornell Cinema

Friday, March 11 at 7:00 PM

Screening as part of the “China Now” Film Series

Cornell Cinema
104 Willard Straight Hall
Ithaca, Illinois


A quiet marvel” – Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

Tucked away in a rugged corner of Yunnan Province, Lisu and Nu minority villagers squat in the abandoned halls of this remote former Community county seat. Divided into three parts, Ghost Town takes an intimate look at its varied cast of characters, bringing audiences face to face with people left behind by China’s new economy.

Tickets are $7 for the general public, $5.50 for seniors, and $4 for students and kids 12 and under. Advance Sale Tickets can be purchased at the Willard Straight Hall Ticket Desk, or at the box office, which opens 20 minutes before the scheduled showtime.

For a full list of upcoming events, visit our Events Page.

Shelly on Film: The Use and Abuse of Chinese Cinema, Part Two

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

By Shelly Kraicer

This is the conclusion of Shelly Kraicer’s essay “The Use and Abuse of Chinese Cinema (in the West).” Click here for the introduction and first half of the essay.


Oxhide 2 (dir. Liu Jiayin)

4. Exemplary Asian independent art cinema. This misreading has something in common with Number 1 (“Exotic, colorful diversion”) , but in a more rarified, sophisticated form. It also contradicts (but exists in a weird sort of symbiosis with) Number 5 below. There is supposed to be something essentially “Asian” (meaning usually East Asian) about the predominant mode of contemporary art cinema now celebrated in festivals worldwide. Films that convey China’s backwardness (see Number 6 below) often employ a Andre Bazin-influenced mise en scène that is post-realist in its effect. Long takes, a demandingly slow pace, opaque storytelling, a distant motionless camera, inexpressive, non-professional actors, lots and lots of visual and narrative blankness, emptiness, stillness. Examples abound, the best recent exponents being Yang Heng (Betelnut, Sun Spots), Yang Rui (Crossing the Mountain), and in her own inimitable way, Liu Jiayin (Oxhide and Oxhide 2).

This analysis reduces an often surprising diversity of film styles into something that is assumed to spring, essentially and almost automatically, from a specific historical and cultural background, with local visual and pictorial traditions transmuted directly into their filmic correlatives. This in a sense over-simplifies and over-particularizes Chinese filmmakers who are utterly fluent (more than most of us) in the world-cinema image market (you can easily find films from everywhere, from every era, in China’s wonderfully eclectic bootleg DVD shops). By insisting on the “Chinese-ness” of these films, a special understanding, a privileged access to the films’ “essences,” may reserved for Sinological experts.

5. International art cinema master(s’) works. On the other hand, it’s just as easy to abuse Chinese cinema as some sort of proof that master directors work in a universal style recognizalbe to experts, critics, professionals, and well-trained festival audiences. In absolute contradistinction to Number 4 above, this attitude says “you don’t need to know anything about China and its specific cultural history to appreciate these films. They are great cinema, full stop”. This can be a branding exercise, like Number 2 (“Commercial entertainment”), but one for a more discriminating audience who needs to be reassured that she or he will be able to enjoy the latest Chinese masterpiece without unduly stressing over its foreignness. This is global art, i.e. It belongs to “Us,” not to its incidentally “Other” creators. Hegemony reasserts itself as art / film criticism, denaturing a film for our appropriation and viewing pleasure (with emphasis on the pleasure). This tendency can be seen in the flattering (for a forty-year-old director) inclusion of the latest Jia Zhangke film I Wish I Knew in the “Masters” section of the Toronto International Film Festival programme.


Chinese Indie Feature Wins Top Prize at Locarno

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

Li Hongqi, winner of the Golden Leopard for Winter Vacation (Photo: Locarno Film Festival)

by Isabella Tianzi Cai

34-year-old Chinese director Li Hongqi’s feature, Winter Vacation, won the Golden Leopard Award at the 63rd Locarno Film Festival on Saturday, August 14, 2010. It is the second time in Locarno’s award history that one country has won the top prize for two consecutive years. In 2009, the award was given to She, a Chinese by another Chinese director Guo Xiaolu.

Winter Vacation tells a coming-of-age story set in a small town of Inner Mongolia in Northern China. The story centers around four youths and it takes place on the last day of their winter vacation. The youths’ general lack of purpose in life is captured in scanty dialogue and “long shots with little editing for stretches of several minutes” (GenevaLunch). As specified by Brian Brooks in indieWire,

“Their conversations are desultory and they sometimes seem to argue for argument’s sake. One of them, Laowu, talks frankly with his girlfriend about how teenage love might affect their studies, while Laobao questions school’s value and relevance to real life.”

Both thematically and stylistically speaking, Winter Vacation resembles dGenerate’s Fujian Blue and Betelnut. Though the stories take place in different parts of China, they share quite some common sentiments of Chinese youths today.

Trivia: The jury of the festival this year included Singapore filmmaker Eric Khoo, whose film My Magic was nominated for the Golden Palm award at Cannes in 2008.

Asia Society Film Recap: Betelnut

Monday, April 26th, 2010

Betelnut (dir. Yang Heng)

“China’s Past, Present and Future on Film,” the recently concluded film series at the Asia Society, yielded positive coverage from a number of reviewers. We’ve already linked to Andrew Chan’s piece on the series in The Auteurs. But we’ve also come across reviews of individual dGenerate titles that screened in the series.

For example, here are a couple of reviews of Yang Heng’s award-winning debut Betelnut. This first excerpt is from an online review by Joe Bendel:

Yang is definitely a director who believes in holding a good shot. Indeed, many of his tableaus are quite striking. While he patiently allows scenes to develop in their own good time, Yang often allows Betelnut to slow to a languorous pace, even compared to the impressionistic films of Jia Zhangke and his contemporaries of the so-called “Sixth Generation.” Yet, despite the film’s stillness, the promise of heat induced violence always feels palpable…

The uncompromisingly naturalistic Betelnut is one of the more demanding films of the Asia Society’s current independent Chinese film series. However, almost every frame is obviously painstakingly crafted by a keen visual stylist. Definitely a film for connoisseurs.

Critic and blogger Christopher Bourne offers his own praise for the film:

“Life seems so cheap sometimes.” This statement by a girl succinctly expresses the philosophy of the aimless characters of Yang Heng’s debut feature Betelnut, a quietly stunning film that finds great beauty in its stillness and austerity, rendering the actions of its characters within a rich musique concrete-like sound design and an intricately arranged visual field that makes us pay attention to the tiniest detail of its images. Yang often has major events of the film occur in extreme long-shot, obscured behind objects, or otherwise somewhere other than in the foreground. This serves to paint a compelling portrait of the restless youths in the film, who while away a hot, lazy summer by drifting on boats, voice chatting and playing video games at internet cafes, smoking, chewing betelnut, and having the occasional drunken binge in a karaoke bar. This all occurs in the ultimate dead-end town: there seem to be few opportunities or job prospects, no school, adults, or controlling authority, and the boys indulge in petty crime and thuggery. One of the characters manages to escape this place at the conclusion (although it’s hard to say for how long), while the others remain trapped in this endless, nothing existence.

Find out more about Betelnut.

Three dGenerate Directors Win at Hong Kong Film Festival

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

Awards ceremony at Hong Kong International Film Festival (photo courtesy Lantern Films)

The Hong Kong International Film Festival gave out its awards Tuesday night, and to our delight, four of the nine awards were given to filmmakers repped by dGenerate. Yang Heng (director of Betelnut) took home the Golden Digital Award in the Asian Digital Competition for his new film Sun Spots, while Zhao Liang (Crime and Punishment) won the Humanitarian Award for his stunning documentary Petition. But the night belonged to Zhao Dayong (Ghost Town, Street Life), whose new film The High Life nabbed two awards – the FIRPRESCI Critics’ Jury Prize and the Silver Award in the Asian Digital Competition.

Full coverage of the awards can be found at The Hollywood Reporter.

See if you can catch Zhao Dayong’s previous feature Ghost Town, which is touring the US through April at these venues. Read some reviews of this film.

Yang Heng’s previous feature Betelnut is available at dGenerate Films. Find out more about his prizewinning debut.

Zhao Liang’s eye-opening documentary Crime and Punishment is currently available for non-theatrical exhibition, and will be available on DVD in the summer.

Check out the Award-Winning Betelnut This Friday at Asia Society!

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

Yang Heng’s Betelnut, winner of the Best First Feature at the Pusan Film Festival and the Critics’ Jury Prize at the Hong Kong Film Festival, will make its New York debut at the Asia Society as part of the series “China’s Past , Present and Future on Film.” You can use discount code asia725 to buy tickets at the $7 member rate. Tickets can be purchased at the Asia Society website or at the Asia Society box office.

Betelnut (Bing Lang)
YANG Heng. China. 2005. 112 min. Narrative. Digibeta.
Friday, March 26, 6:45 pm

Asia Society and Museum
725 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10021

View a clip from the film below. Further details about the film can be found here, and after the break.


Discounted Tickets and Jia Zhangke in person for Asia Society series

Monday, March 1st, 2010

Our friends at the Asia Society are offering discounted tickets for their upcoming Film Series China’s Past, Present, and Future on Film, March 6 – April 16, 2010. You can use discount code asia725 to buy tickets at the $7 member rate. This includes tickets to see Jia Zhangke in-person on March 6! It’s also a chance to see several dGenerate titles on the big screen: Betelnut, Fujian Blue, Gai Shanxi and Her Sisters, and Little Moth.

Full schedule and details.

Reviews from Rotterdam: Oxhide II and Sun Spots

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

Oxhide II (dir. Liu Jiayin)

The International Film Festival Rotterdam concluded this past weekend; this year’s edition was of special interest to us, what with eighteen films by Chinese directors or with a Chinese theme. Two indie films in particular drew critical attention, much of which is summarized below.


Best Chinese-Language Films of the 2000s: One Voter’s Thoughtful Ballot

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

Betelnut (dir. Yang Heng)

In conducting the one-of-a-kind poll of the Best Chinese-Language Films of the 2000s, we received ballots from nearly 50 participants from around the world, including filmmakers, programmers, critics and other experts. One of our participants, Peter Rist, who teaches at the School of Cinema in Concordia University, sent a particularly lengthy account of his rationale for his selections, which we felt deserve an entry of their own. We’re also pleased that he considered both Betelnut by Yang Heng and Oxhide II by Liu Jiayin worthy of his final ten, since dGenerate distributes both Betelnut and the first Oxhide film and consider Yang Heng and Liu Jiayin among the most exceptional young talents working anywhere today.

Here is Peter’s list – his commentary follows after the break, as well as a list of his best films of the decade from around the world.

Stay tuned tomorrow for the full results of the poll, compiled from all of our participants!


Zhantai (Platform), Jia Zhangke (P.R. China/Hong Kong/France/Japan)
Suzhou he (Suzhou River), Lou Ye (China/Germany)
Fa yeung nin wa (In the Mood for Love), Wong Kar-wai (Hong Kong/France)
Tie Xi Qu: West of the Tracks, Wang Bing (China), documentary, digital
Cha ma gu dao xi lie (Delamu), Tian Zhuangzhuang (China/Japan), digital, doc.
McDull, Prince de la Bun, Toe Yuen (Hong Kong), animation
Zui hao de shi guang (Three Times), Hou Hsiao-hsien (Taiwan/France)
Hei yan quan (I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone), Tsai Ming-liang
Binglang (Betelnut), Yang Heng (China), digital
Niu pi er (Oxhide II), Liu Jiayin (China), digital


dGenerate Directors Applauded by David Bordwell

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

Observations on Film Art” is a blog run by prominent film scholars David Bordwell (author of numerous books including Poetics of Cinema, The Way Hollywood Tells It, and Ozu and the Poetics of Cinema) and Kristin Thompson. In Bordwell’s recent review of the Vancouver International Film Festival (October 1-16), humorously entitled “Wantons and Wontons,” dGenerate director Liu Jiayin’s new film Oxhide II won his high compliment.

Naming the film “the most exciting Asian film I saw at VIFF,” Bordwell considers the 132-minute film about a family making dumplings as “a demonstration of how a simple form, patiently pursued, can yield unpredictable rewards.” This sequel to Oxhide further explores the themes of family dynamics and economic hardship, and Liu displays her mastery in handling the tension between a quasi-documentary aspect and self-conscious artistry even better. As Bordwell notes: “[A]lthough everything looks spontaneous, it was all completely staged – written out in detail, rehearsed over months, reworked in test footage, and eventually played out in ‘real time.'”