Posts Tagged ‘toronto’

Finding Ways to Fit: Mainland Chinese films at Toronto and Vancouver

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

1428 (dir. Du Haibin)

1428 (dir. Du Haibin)

Part One: Toronto International Film Festival (September 10-19, 2009)

One looks to comprehensive film festivals, such as the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), for an overview of contemporary cinema that offers both breadth and depth. TIFF’s expansiveness, for example, allows one to make some judgments about the relative place of particular kinds of film in the world right now. I would like to try something of the sort with Mainland Chinese cinema in the context of TIFF, in particular how several new films might be situated in the world-cinematic scene.

Although Jia Zhangke seems in the process of retooling his cinema to head in new directions (though his public reaction, uncomfortably aligned with the Chinese government’s, to the Melbourne Film Festival Affair gives one pause), Jia-ist cinema, through its profound effect on most younger independent Chinese directors, seems lately more restrictive than liberating in its influence. Film language in “mainstream” indie Chinese films (both docs and features) seems to have temporarily congealed into something like formulaic liturgies: fetishization of the long take, the distant camera, the objective tone, the unedited minutiae of daily life.

At the same time, commercial Chinese film has adopted its own pathologies, giving us a series of big budget bloated historical epics cautiously tucked away, far from the sensitivities of the Film Bureau, into genres that are safely protected from any possible overt contemporary relevance. Several of these latter works found their way into TIFF, which has frequently, in the past ten years, extended a generous welcome to foreign fare that might attract the attentions of North American distribution. Since sword-wielding costumed Chinese actors sold in the past (thanks, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon and your progeny), they have gained a marketable sheen that TIFF is one of the key agents in promoting.


Canadian Premiere of The Other Half

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

the_other_half-thumbOn Friday, November 6, the Gibsone Jessop Gallery in Toronto, Canada, launches a screening series of contemporary Chinese films in partnership with dGenerate Films. This five film series will begin with Ying Liang’s The Other Half, “a fierce and harrowing cry of political rage.” (The New Yorker)

This marks the first in a five-film screening series at Toronto’s Gibsone Jessop Gallery. Gibsone Jessop not only showcases international contemporary art from around the globe, with a special focus on China, they also host nightly events such as film screenings, theater and music that deepen the understanding of the cultures and context their artists create within. The next five Fridays will highlight different dGenerate films. Subsequent screenings include San Yuan Li, Little Moth, Using, and Queer China, ‘Comrade’ China.

Visit Gibsone Jessop’s site for more information about the event.

Friday, November 6, 2009, 7:30pm
To reserve tickets, please email
Tickets: $10 in advance, $12 at the door
Limited Seating.