Monday, March 2, 2009


Chinese Cinema at SFIAAFF 2009

Although "And the Spring Comes" (立春), one of my top ten films in 2008, is not included in the 27th San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival (SFIAAFF), a wide spectrum of recent films from China are presented at this year's SFIAAFF.

From Academy Award winner Ang Lee (李安), to Chinese independent filmmaker veteran Jia Zhang-ke (贾樟柯), to new director Cao Baoping (曹保平), and to rock musician filmmaker Peng Lei (彭磊), festival goers will have plenty to choose from if they are in the mood for some Chinese.

  • 24 City (二十四城记 | China/Hong Kong/Japan 2008 | in Mandarin | 107 min.)

    Although I own a few films on DVD by critically acclaimed director Jia Zhang-ke (贾樟柯), I admit that I have not watched any of his film more than once. However, I never miss any opportunity to see his new work. Therefore, I have not yet seen Jia's latest film "24 City" which competed for Palme d'Or at 2008 Cannes Film Festival, staring Joan Chen (陈冲) — I will catch this film at the festival.

    Joan Chen in 24 City

  • The Panda Candy (熊猫奶糖 | China 2007 | in Mandarin | 85 min.)

    After premiered two years ago in China, a stylish Chinese independent film "The Panda Candy" finally meets the American audience at this year's SFIAAFF. Director Peng Lei (彭磊) is the lead singer of a Chinese rock band called "Red Pants" (新裤子). During the band's tour in China, Peng picks concert goers to join the protagonist of his film to tell a story about the love and dating of the young generation in the rapidly changing China. I found the film's music and visual are quite refreshing. However, those who must rely on subtitles might face a challenge when viewing the film, unless at the screening time, the subtitles are refurbished. Perhaps, the plot is not that important after all.

    Chun Sue (left) and Taki Zhang in The Panda Candy

  • The Equation of Love and Death (李米的猜想 | China 2008 | in Mandarin | 92 min.)

    Riding the wave of its commercial success at the box offices in China, director Cao Baoping's (曹保平) second feature "The Equation of Love and Death" comes to SFIAAFF. In a style similar to "Crash," this film tells a story of a cab driver Li Mi's quest looking for her suddenly vanished boyfriend. Zhou Xun (周迅), One of the hottest actresses in China, is the center of this film playing Li Mi, who fights kidnapping, extortion, and mostly, desperation.


  • Lust, Caution - Ang Lee in Conversation with Linda Williams (色, 戒 | China 2007 | 158 min.)

    Academy Award winning director Ang Lee's (李安) "Lust, Caution" tells a remarkable story about a woman's courage and sacrifice during the fight against Japanese's occupation during World War II. Followed the screening at the festival, an intimate conversation with Ang Lee will take place on stage led by UC Berkeley professor Linda Williams. This special screening and on-stage conversation will take place at Wheeler Auditorium in Berkeley.


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