It Must Be Heaven directed by Elia Suleiman
It Must Be Heaven directed by Elia Suleiman

Elia Suleiman’s whimsical, yet thoughtful film IT MUST BE HEAVEN – the Palestinian 2020 Oscar submission, will open the 2019 CineCina Film Festival on Friday, October 25 at the DGA New York Theater. The film features the beloved filmmaker observing the goings on around him in Nazareth, Paris and France. Through his eyes, we see moments, and fragments of life and human interaction that can surprise and delight one moment, and be very familiar the next.

The 40th Anniversary screening of a digitally restored version of King Hu’s 1979 classic RAINING IN THE MOUNTAIN will make its U.S. Premiere as the Centerpiece Screening on Friday, November 1 at AMC Lincoln Square.

A special 10th Anniversary presentation of Samuel Maoz’s LEBANON which won numerous awards during it’s release ten years ago, including the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival will serve as the Closing Night selection when it screens Sunday, November 3 at French Institute Alliance Française.

The CineCina Film Festival’s highly curated fest includes a main slate comprised of nine films, with five special presentations, representing 24 countries. With screening locations spread throughout the city, CinaCina films will be presented at; AMC Lincoln Square 13 (1998 Broadway); AMC Empire 25 (234 W. 42nd Street); SVA (333 W. 23rd Street); DGA New York Theater (110 W. 57th Street); and French Institute Alliance Française (22 E. 6oth Street).

CineCina Film Festival Founder and Director Vina Sun, said, “In our second year, we have created a ‘road’ theme meant to highlight our cinematic journey, the connection, and mutual communication platform we seek to build to boost film culture exchanges. Our programming has expanded to all world cinema beyond the Chinese focus we established with last year’s debut. That creative road also leads to our Horizon Project, meant to encourage and develop young filmmakers, as well as Master Class lectures, which will feature film artists like one of our special guests this year, Samuel Maoz.”

Two North American premieres head the main slate selection of films. Takahisa Zeze’s THE CHRYSANTHEMUM AND THE GUILLOTINE follows two female sumo wrestlers trying to escape the abuses of their past, while two other women – members of an anarchist group start to watch their wrestling matches. Lu Zhang’s FUKUOKA looks at two old schoolmates reconnecting, a mysterious woman who enters the picture and the love triangle that ensues.

Other highlights include Lisa Zi Xiang’s award-winning A DOG BARKING AT THE MOON, about a Chinese family saga, commencing with the wife’s discovery of her husband’s homosexuality. The film was a winner at Berlin, aGLIFF, and Inside Out, among other film festivals. Yinan Diao’s THE WILD GOOSE LAKE will be the focal point of a Special Halloween event at SVA. The stylish Chinese crime noir is about a gang leader on the run and a girl in trouble ready to risk everything to change her luck.

Rounding out the Special Screenings, Halloween will also feature a 30th Anniversary presentation of John Woo’s influential classic THE KILLER. Chow Yun-Fat’s disillusioned assassin accepts one last hit in hopes of using his earnings to restore vision to a singer he accidentally blinded, only to be double-crossed by his boss. Naoko Yamada’s A SILENT VOICE will be screened as a special Tribute to Kyoto Animation. In the film, a young man loses friends after he bullies a deaf girl so much she moves away. As an adult, he decides he must make amends. The CineCina Film Festival will donate all proceeds from the screening to assist in the reconstruction of Kyoto Animation, which recently suffered a disastrous fire to their production offices in Japan. Serif Gören and Yilmaz Güney’s YOL (1982) will also be the subject of a special screening which will mark the U.S. premiere of a newly-restored digital print of the film. YOL is about five Turkish prisoner who face oppression from everyone during a one-week leave, won the Palme d’Or at Cannes as well as an award from the National Board of Review.

2019 CineCina Film Festival
Official selections

Opening Night Selection
IT MUST BE HEAVEN
New York Premiere
Director: Elia Suleiman
Countries: France/Palestine/Qatar/Germany/Canada/Turkey, Running Time: 97 minutes

Filmmaker Elia Suleiman travels to different cities and finds unexpected parallels to his homeland of Palestine.

Centerpiece Selection
RAINING IN THE MOUNTAIN (1979)
Director: King Hu
Countries: Taiwan/Hong Kong, Running Time: 120 min

An esquire and a general both eye a priceless handwritten scroll by Tripitaka, held in a temple library. The Abbot of the Temple selects his successor. Voted as one of the “100 Greatest Chinese Films” by the Hong Kong Film Awards. Beautifully photographed, the film is set in a Buddhist monastery during the Ming Dynasty in turmoil over who will be appointed as the next abbot. And tensions only get worse when someone steals a venerated sutra from the Buddhist scriptures.

Closing Night Selection
LEBANON (2009)
Director: Samuel Maoz
Countries: Israel/Germany/France/UK, Running Time: 93 min

During the First Lebanon War in 1982, a lone tank and a paratroopers platoon are dispatched to search a hostile town. The claustrophobic and bitingly tense drama places us with an Israeli army unit in a tank during a mission to Lebanon. With a POV relegated to what can be seen from the perspective of the cramped soldiers in the tank, the atrocities of war mix with a veritable stew of humanity inside the tank itself.

MAIN SLATE

AWAY
New York Premiere
Director: Gints Zilbalodis
Country: Latvia, Running Time: 75 min

A boy and a little bird are on a journey across a strange island trying to get back home.

THE CHRYSANTHEMUM AND THE GUILLOTINE
North American Premiere
Director: Takahisa Zeze
Country: Japan, Running Time: 189 min

After the Great Kanto earthquake in 1923, a troupe of female sumo wrestlers, including Tomoyo and Tamae arrive in the area near Tokyo. Meanwhile, an anarchist group, including Tetsu and Daijiro go to watch the female sumo wrestlers compete and become fascinated by them.

A DOG BARKING AT THE MOON
Director: Lisa Zi Xiang
Countries: China/Spain, Running Time: 107 min

A Chinese family saga, told in different periods of time, commencing with the wife’s discovery of her husband’s homosexuality. When her adult daughter comes to visit, other secrets slowly come to light.

THE FACTORY
New York Premiere
Director: Yuriy Bykov
Countries: Russia/France/Armenia, Running Time: 109 min

When a factory is about to close, a group of workers decides to take action against the owner.

FUKUOKA
North American Premiere
Director: Lu Zhang
Countries: South Korea/Japan, Running Time: 88 min

A film about a middle-aged man’s retrospect to his past, two Koreans’ trip to Fukuoka, and three people’s reconciliation with love.

THE MAGIC LIFE OF V
New York Premiere
Director: Tonislav Hristov
Countries: Finland/Denmark/Bulgaria, Running Time: 87 min

Documentary follows a young woman haunted by childhood trauma, who learns how to face that past and become more independent as she helps her mentally disabled brother through live-role-playing.

TAKE ME SOMEWHERE NICE
New York Premiere
Director: Ena Sendijarevic
Countries: Netherlands/Bosnia and Herzegovina, Running Time: 91 min

A Dutch girl of Bosnian descent travels to Bosnia to visit her sick father. It will be the first time they will see each other.

THE WILD GOOSE LAKE
Director: Yinan Diao
Countries: China/France, Running Time: 113 min

A gang leader on the run seeking redemption. A girl in trouble risking everything to gain her freedom. Both hunted on the hidden shores of The Wild Goose Lake. They set a deadly gamble for what may be their last day.

SPECIAL SCREENINGS

THE KILLER (1989)
Director: John Woo
Country: Hong Kong, Running Time: 111 min

A disillusioned assassin accepts one last hit in hopes of using his earnings to restore vision to a singer he accidentally blinded, only to be double-crossed by his boss.

A SILENT VOICE (2016)
Director: Naoko Yamada
Country: Japan, Running Time: 130 min

A young man is ostracized by his classmates after he bullies a deaf girl to the point where she moves away. Years later, he sets off on a path for redemption.

YOL (1982)
Directors: Serif Gören, Yilmaz Güney
Countries: Turkey/Switzerland, Running Time: 113 min

When five Turkish prisoners are granted one week’s home leave, they find to their dismay that they face continued oppression outside of prison from their families, the culture, and the government.

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