“Earthquake in China” Whenever these words are heard, the first thing that comes to mind is usually the devastation in Sichuan province that took place in 2008. But for those who are old enough to have been around for it, they’ll also think of the Tangshan earthquake of 1976. The magnitude 7.5 quake claimed the lives of 240,000 people who lived in the industrial city of Tangshan, located 140 kilometers away from Beijing. This tragic event in history is the starting point in director Feng Xiaogang’s film Aftershock.
Shanghai’s Peace Old Jazz Band is said to be "the oldest jazz band in the world.” The members of the band, aged between 65 and 87 years of age, have been playing together at Shanghai’s Peace Hotel nightly for over 30 years. This delightful documentary by German director, Uli Gaulke, features the six sprightly bandmates as they are invited to play at the North Sea Jazz Festival in Rotterdam, Netherlands—the biggest show of their careers!
Thirty years—a generation’s worth of time—after the policy was first implemented is where Beijing-based director, Liu Hao, begins the conversation. As also the writer of the feature film, Liu builds an engaging story around this timely social issue, allowing viewers to get personal with what’s really happening in China.
The film Beijing Taxi, directed by Miao Wang, a Beijing native who immigrated to the US in 1990, begins two years before the Olympics and follows the lives of three taxi drivers. Each of them shares their own perspective on Beijing’s transformation, China’s rise, and most importantly, what it all means to them. Is China hosting the Olympics really all the glitz and glory that it was dreamed to be? What price economic growth and development?
A documentary exploring the lives of some of China's "little people" living and working at a theme park in Yunnan.
Ladder to Paradise (2015)
Directed by Xiao Han and Liang Junjian
Reviewed by Hannah Lau.
Another favorite film from the Hong Kong International Film Festival.
In the sphere of international film, Jia Zhangke, is a key player that’s putting China on the map. As a part of the “Sixth Generation” of film directors in China, this group has left behind the epic tales of mythical history and instead, focuses their efforts on capturing the raw realities of today’s China. For Jia, this means that films are more than just ways to tell stories. He carefully uses his craft as a vehicle to commentate on contemporary Chinese society.
Traditionally, film festival pieces are known to push boundaries and be more artistically daring than your average blockbuster affair. But the space in which director Qiu Jiongjiong plays with his film Chi (癡) is one that even has the artistic community a bit stunned. The film, which has been alternately named Mr. Zhang Believes, has been described as a hybrid documentary—one that blends theatrical fiction and autobiography. Existing in relatively uncharted territory, hybrids bravely blur the lines of categorical boundaries.
The film, Stonehead, is set in a small village in China where children, the "left-behind children," are raised by their grandparents because their parents have all moved to urban cities for better jobs. The story centers around three main characters who, even though it’s never clearly stated, each represent a different way left-behind children cope with their family situations. But the film also speaks more widely about the coping mechanisms used by people thoughout Chinese society today.
Daxing Bootcamp, located in the suburbs of Beijing, is probably a place you've never heard of. But growing numbers of parents in China who are at wits’ end have heard of it or of the 400 rehabilitation camps like it. The government has set up the centers to treat teenagers with internet addiction disorder. Web Junkie takes us inside Daxing Bootcamp and introduces us to three of the young men who are treated there.
Strangers Corrie Lee and Keiko Suzuki have just graduated from university and moved to China to start their first jobs. Corrie believes that God has called her there, while Keiko is in it for the work experience. No matter the reason, life in China quickly becomes about more than just that. Through a friendship over email, Corrie and Keiko agonise, laugh, share, and commiserate over the big and small things in life.
- What does it mean to have a fulfilled and meaningful life?
- How can we be faithful to God, especially in difficult circumstances?
- How do we know whether a bad situation is our cross to bear or something to walk away from?