To celebrate its 50th issue, Cinema Scope has compiled a list of fifty directors under 50 who represent “the future of cinema.” Much to the pride and delight of all those who champion Chinese voices in contemporary cinema, Cinema Scope has chosen to honor several significant Chinese filmmakers: Liu Jiayin, director of Oxhide and Oxhide II, Zhao Liang, director of Petition and Crime and Punishment, Pema Tseden the Tibetan director of Old Dog, Jia Zhangke, director of such films as Unknown Pleasures and The World, as well as the 2008 documentary Dong, and Wang Bing, director of Coal Money and Man With No Name.
Profiling Liu Jiayin, Andréa Picard praises Liu and the Oxhide series, musing “Who was this filmmaker who so maturely delineated the space of her imagination, carving a humanist monument from next to nothing?”
On these remarkable films that measuredly unfold an intimate world of family minutiae, Picard discusses Liu’s “carefully calibrated yet warmly sensual sound and image construction, a droll humanism, and, ultimately, a feisty hopefulness.”
Zhao Liang, called a “poet of justice” by reviewer Albert Serra, is described as an artist who “cannot simply describe social injustices, lies, abuses of power…because as an author he’s realized that “reality” itself is unjust and abusive. And it’s absurd to find a way to fight against it because reality has as much power as the “system” does in China.” Of the careful examination of power and artistry at play in Zhao’s Crime and Punishment and Petition, as well as his dedication to pulling back the layers of the grueling injustices of Chinese beaurocracy, Serra writes: “With any other topic he could have been involuntarily serving the propaganda of what he’s criticizing, but the issue of the absence of justice turns our hearts with so much power that this is impossible.”
dGenerate films consultant and blog contributor Shelly Kraicer takes on an appraisal of the frontrunner of Tibetan new wave, Pema Tseden (in Chinese, Wanma Caidan). Of the director of The Silent Holy Stones, The Search, and most recently Old Dog, which is currently enjoying an international festival run, Kraicer says, “Given Pema Tseden’s extremely complicated position as a Tibetan in China, and the necessity of having his films pass stringent Chinese censorship, his ability to speak eloquently of individual despair and the emergency of cultural obliteration is masterful; his ability to do this in films of such eloquent, quiet beauty is nothing short of astonishing.”
Reviewed by Chris Fujiwara, Wang Bing‘s work, which includes the films The Ditch and Fengming, a Chinese Memoir, is described as being imbued with “an attempt to imagine unimaginable (though real) conditions for human life, there is also a war-movie element, a working-over of the terrain, together with the becoming-mineral of humanity that recalls the hard-bitten, antiheroic sagas of Samuel Fuller, Anthony Mann, and MiklâˆšÃ‰Â¬â‰¥s JanscâˆšÃ‰Â¬â‰¥.”
Jia Zhangke, perhaps the Chinese filmmaker on this list whose reputation most predicts inclusion on such a list, is discussed by Tony Rayns as an inspiration to those filmmakers who followed in the footsteps of Jia’s early hometown trilogy: Xiao Wu, Platform, and Unknown Pleasures. “After Jia,” writes Raynes, “the flood. From the start, Jia had a genius for seeing and showing how larger social changes (political, economic, moral) impacted on individual lives.”
Congratulations to Cinema Scope for reaching this milestone and to all the directors who grace this list—the future is in your capable hands.