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Yang Fudong's Cinematic Influences

Thursday, September 5, 2013
7:00 p.m. Sacrificed Youth
Zhang Nuanxin (China, 1985)

(Qingchunji). A young Beijing woman is “sent down” to live among the Dai minority of Yunnan Province during the Cultural Revolution in this key work from one of China’s few Fifth Generation female filmmakers. Prim and properly pant-suited, teenage Li Chun is relocated to the mist-ridden mountains of Yunnan to better forget her overly intellectual background, and is overwhelmed—and awakened— by the physical, primal, and deeply sensual world of the Dai, a minority group with roots in Laos and Burma. More than a classic of Fifth Generation filmmaking, Sacrificed Youth stands apart through its expression of a unique, powerful female point-of-view, and for its ethnographic commitment to documenting the Dai culture. At times dialogue is abandoned entirely, and the camera instead luxuriates in the beauty of the region’s landscapes. “The film administers some hard knocks to Han Chinese notions of ‘superiority’ over the various minority peoples,” wrote Tony Rayns during the film’s first overseas screenings, “and implicitly attacks the ‘folksy’ clichés of earlier films about the minorities.”

—Jason Sanders

• Written by Zhang Nuanxin, based on a short story by Zhang Manling. Photographed by Mu Deyuan, Deng Wei. With Li Fengxu, Feng Yuanzheng, Song Tao, Guo Jianguo. (90 mins, In Mandarin and Dai with English subtitles, Color, 35mm, From USC Hugh M. Hefner Moving Image Archive)

Preceded by:
The Nightman Cometh (Yejiang)
Yang Fudong (China, 2011)

Yang Fudong’s The Nightman Cometh presents its own hauntings, its own connections between past and present, history and myth as defined by cinema. In a snow-bound, strangely empty realm, four characters who have seemingly fallen out of different Chinese films—a warrior and a princess, a white-suited dandy and a tragic heroine—wander, seemingly looking for a way out, or a way in. Gorgeously shot in crisp black-and-white, The Nightman Cometh holds a beauty as entrancing as any of the films that it pays homage to.

(19 mins, No dialogue, B&W, Digital file, From Marian Goodman Gallery, Paris/New York, and ShanghART Gallery, Shanghai )