Posts Tagged ‘vancouver’

Shelly on Film: Deeper Into Dragons and Tigers

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

By Shelly Kraicer

Rumination (dir. Xu Ruotao)

The 2010 Vancouver International Film Festival (September 30 to October 15) has just concluded. This was my fourth year programming Chinese language films for VIFF’s Dragons and Tigers section for East Asian cinema; this year’s edition featured 43 features and 21 shorts, co-curated by Tony Rayns and myself. I selected 19 features and three shorts: 12 from China, 4 from Hong Kong, 3 from Taiwan, 2 from Malaysia, and one from Singapore. Details of the films from the People’s Republic of China, including comments derived from my catalogue notes for VIFF, can be found below.

Within the D&T section, the Dragons and Tigers Award for Young Cinema, programmed by Tony Rayns, featured 8 films by young, as yet “undiscovered” directors. The jury, comprised of Jia Zhangke, Bong Joon-ho, and Denis Côté, awarded its prize to the Japanese film Good Morning World!, directed by Hirohara Satoru. Two special mentions were awarded: one to the Chinese film Rumination (Fanchu), by Xu Ruotao, and one to Phan Dang Di’s Vietnamese film Don’t Be Afraid B!

As usual, I chose more films from China than from any other territory. I try each year to balance at least two goals in my programming: I want to give VIFF audiences a sense of the increasing variety of Chinese language filmmaking, both in the independent sector, and in commercial genres. At the same time, it has always been VIFF’s policy and my own personal preference to highlight the work of independent young filmmakers working outside of the system of official censorship and distribution (independent tizhiwai films). Indie documentary filmmaking continues to be particularly strong in China, and I could only choose a few examples: it would have been easy to devote the bulk of my 9 feature length film slots to Chinese independent films this year.

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Interview with Oxhide director Liu Jiayin

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

Peter Rist, who recently contributed a thoroughly considered ballot for our Chinese Films of the Decade Poll, has published an interview he conducted with Liu Jiayin, the director of Oxhide and Oxhide II. The interview was conducted for Offscreen Magazine at last year’s Vancouver International Film Festival, where Oxhide II was presented. Oxhide II is currently screening at the Rotterdam International Film Festival.

Here are some choice excerpts from the interview. The full interview can be found at Offscreen.

Offscreen: My first question is about style. And, I wonder if you could explain a little bit of why you use the cinemascope frame, because I was very surprised when I saw your first feature film, that for such an intimate setting, and shooting on (not the highest definition) digital, you would use the widest scope frame available.

LJ: Firstly, it is personal. I like the aesthetics of the 2.35:1 aspect ratio, and it also makes the film look more “serious.” I knew that, normally, the cinemascope format is used as a more “epic” style, and for more “spectacular” scenes, or for exterior scenes. I know that my film was really intimate, but I still chose to use this ratio. That’s the first point. Secondly: size and distance are relative, so, even if you are shooting something very close, or if something you are shooting is very small, if you are using a cinemascope lens then that will give you a different perspective, and it will make it look larger.

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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.

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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.'”

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