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2016 San Diego Asian Film Festival



Directed by Zhang Hanyi

Discoveries / China / 2016 / Drama, Experimental / 80 mins / Shaanxi with English subtitles / DCP / West Coast Premiere

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Digital Gym Cinema
Monday, November 7, 2016 6:05 pm


Official Selection, 2016 Berlin International Film Festival
Firebird Award, 2016 Hong Kong International Film Festival
Official Selection, 2016 New Directors/New Films

A ghost story road trip with the sincerity and haunting tenderness of a children’s fable. In a deathly post-industrial, post-agricultural Chinese province that seems both unreal and true, a boy runs up a hill to chase a rabbit, and comes back possessed by the spirit of his long-dead mother, Xiuying. The mother/son tells her husband/father Mingchung that they need to move a tree they’d planted twenty years ago, and (surprisingly) unsurprised, he agrees to help her. As they visit old relatives, encounter strangers on the road, and meet their parents reincarnated as animals, Xiuying and Mingchung maintain a kind, neighborly, almost cheerful attitude – especially for travelers wandering an endless death-scape.

As we watch closely, this seemingly barren world reveals its objects, living and dead, to have spirits, even senses of humor. Boulders, mopeds, trucks, and trees tumble around the film with the serious silliness of Buster Keaton. And like Keaton, first-time director Zhang Hanyi’s strength is his austere simplicity. Nearly every shot is precisely framed, motionless, and full of crisp details. The first effect is to ground this supernatural story in a feeling of reality. But then, as the shot goes on, surreal elements come into view and surprise us with the strangeness – like a dog perched on a roof – of the world all around. –Lev Kalman


Writer: Hanyi Zhang
Starring: Zhang Li, Zhang Mingjun

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Dates & Times


Digital Gym Cinema
Monday, November 7, 2016 6:05 pm