CineCina Film Festival rolls out its Online Film Festival this week spotlighting 9 feature films and 2 classic short films, highlighted by award-winners like Congcong Teng’s SEND ME TO THE CLOUDS and Oliver Siu Kuen Chan’s STILL HUMAN. The online festival will be made made available on CathayPlay.com, beginning this week and next, as the New York City-based film festival joins other film organizations presenting films virtually. More titles will be added (and announced later) as the CineCina Film Festival continues throughout the first two weeks in June.
The film festival, which has quickly made a name for itself in New York championing Chinese and world cinema, is currently exploring dates in September/October when it can return to theaters safely after stay at home/shelter in place restrictions have been lifted for the city. The launch of this week’s Online Film Festival is the organization’s latest action to continue to bring Chinese-language cinema to New York audiences, as well as celebrate film and promote filmmaking in the city during a time when everyone continues to deal with the realities of managing the pandemic caused by COVID-19.
CineCina Film Festival Co-Director of Programming Frank Yan, said, “This initial group of films include nine features, and two shorts that offer a wonderful cross section of recent Chinese-language cinema releases. In the subsequent weeks we will offer more features and short films for our audiences as we continue to plan for the 2nd edition of our film festival this Fall, under the LOVE AND DUTY theme. That will include the announcement and presentation of our Project Horizon winners. In the meantime, we will celebrate film in New York, both with this virtual film festival and our Films on the Wall projections throughout the city.”
The initial film presentations are highlighted by Congcong Teng’s SEND ME TO THE CLOUDS, about an iron-willed journalist Sheng Nan, who, following a cancer diagnosis with ovarian cancer hikes into the misty mountains, where a chain of outbursts with her dysfunctional family, grumpy client, misogynistic co-worker and dreamlike romantic interest hilariously unfold. Oliver Siu Kuen Chan’s STILL HUMAN follows a paralyzed and hopeless Hong Kong man and his new Filipino domestic worker who has put her dream on hold in order to earn a living in the big city. Xiangqi Chen’s SHANGHAI QUEER is a first-of-its-kind documentary film about LGBTQIA+’s pursuit of equality and freedom in Shanghai, China. Xiao Xiao, and Lin Lin’s TURTLE ROCK evolves around the daily life of three generations in a tiny mountain village. An 80-year-old grandma still labors hard for the family, while her son can only do odd jobs in the woods and becomes increasingly impoverished and anxious, and her grandson, tired of being migrant worker in city, returns to the mountains and struggles with his business of raising chickens. Two short films from Richard Yao-chi Chen, THE MOUNTAIN (1966) and THROUGH THE YEARS (1964), look at the Chinese migrant workers’ contribution to the United States’ westward expansion, and a time capsule look at the late 60s and views toward the Vietnam War courtesy of three college students during a hike in the mountains.
2020 CineCina Online Film Festival Films and Descriptions
CROSSING THE BORDER
Director: Huo Meng
Country; China, Running Time: 93 min
During the summer vacation, Ningning, a 7-year-old boy was sent back to the countryside to be taken care of by his 70-year-old grandfather, Li Fuchang. When the grandfather accidentally gets an old friend’s contact information, he discovers that his old friend is dying. He decides to ride a motorbike with his grandson and visit his old friend. On the way, they meet a frustrated young man, a grumpy middle-aged trucker and a lonely old beekeeper. During the trip, the grandfather and grandson ruminate on death and memory.
DANCING IN THE WIND
Director: Yue Ting
Country: China, Running Time: 89 min
“Red-Hair Emperor”, Gu Donglin, the man who had been married twice in Zhengzhou, China. He alone raised the daughter who was in junior high school. When he was young, he loved disco. Nowadays, whenever he feels bored, he will go to the park and dance with the sound of other people’s music. In 2017, a wave of Internet broadcasts emerged. The image of his frenetic dance with friends was pushed to the public. Since then, “awkward dance” has completely changed his life.
Director: Zhou Lidong
Country: China, Running Time: 108 min
Local business owner Old Lin finds himself in dire straits; the time has come for him to collect on his debts, or face serious trouble. Juggling responsibilities as a husband and father, as well as simply a man, Old Lin comes to realize there’s a lot more to figure out in his mid-forties.
SEND ME TO THE CLOUDS
Director: Congcong Teng
Country: China, Running Time: 99 min
Diagnosed with ovarian cancer, iron-willed journalist Sheng Nan (“Surpass Men” in Chinese) is pressured to make a quick fortune and find mind-blowing sex before the costly surgery numbs her senses. Taking on a businessman’s biography writing job, she hikes into the misty mountains, where a chain of outbursts with her dysfunctional family, grumpy client, misogynistic co-worker and dreamlike romantic interest hilariously unfold. As deeply moving as it is luminously witty, writer-director Teng Congcong’s debut waltzes across the bitterness swallowed by her generation of women born under China’s One Child Policy, unprecedentedly burdened to “surpass men” while trying not to be “leftover women” at the same time. Saluting the 18th-century Chinese literature classic Dream of the Red Chamber in its title, the enchanting gem refreshes the novel’s transcendent contemplation on desire, death and womanhood from a modern cinematic perspective.
Director: Jiangjiang Jin
Country: China, Running Time: 99 min
This documentary is about the life of two Lisu brothers who live on the Biluo mountain where Nujiang River passes. The elder brother, Cilihua, is 17 years old and the younger one, Jialihua is 10. Their father died when the younger brother was only six months. Their mother remarried and settled at the foot of the mountain, leaving the boys to her mother and brother. There is no school on the mountain and the kids spend their time shouldering the family chores. Even with the misfortune and hardship, simple happiness is never far from their life.
Director: Xiangqi Chen
Country: China, Running Time: 90 min
SHANGHAI QUEER is a first-of-its-kind documentary film about LGBTQ’s pursuit of equality and freedom in Shanghai, China. The documentary tells the collective memories of the development of Shanghai’s LGBTQ community over the past 15 years (2003-2018), presenting and focusing on the mission, growth and thoughts of NGOs, activists, scholars and artists in the gender equality movement under the change of urban spaces. Through oral interviews with activists and tours around local queer spaces, the documentary discusses China’s LGBTQ-related issues and depicts a picture of local activism fighting for the minority’s equality.
Director: Oliver Siu Kuen Chan
Country: China, Running Time: 115 min
A paralyzed and hopeless Hong Kong man meets his new Filipino domestic worker who has put her dream on hold and came to the city to earn a living. These two strangers live under the same roof through different seasons, and as they learn more about each other, they also learn more about themselves. Together, they learn about how to face the different seasons of life.
THE TASTE OF RICE FLOWER (2017)
Director: Peng Fei Song
Country: China, Running Time:
Ye Nan, a mother belonging to the Dai minority, comes back to her village after living in the city. She wants to take care of the 13-year-old daughter she’d left behind, but the road to rebuilding their relationship is full of obstacles. One day her daughter is arrested for stealing money from the village’s most sacred temple with her friend. Since people, thinking the girls are possessed by the devil, decide to save them by worshipping a stone Buddha in a 250-million-year-old karst cave during the Water-Sprinkling Festival.
Directors: Xiao Xiao, Lin Lin
Country: China, Running Time: 101 min
TURTLE ROCK evolves around the daily life of three generations in a tiny mountain village. 80-years-old grandma still labors hard for the family. She burns incense and prays day by day for the fear of upcoming death, and asks her son to come back for company. After her son returns from outside work, he can only do odd jobs in the woods and becomes increasingly impoverished and anxious. Her grandson, tired of being migrant worker in city, back to the mountains and starts his business of raising chickens, but ends up with a complete defeat and being heavily indebted. Meanwhile, her neighbor uncle Li unwillingly comes back home for his eye being injured in industrial job, and suddenly loses all source of income… The piling mountains tightly binds them together and enfetters their fates, just as the giant “Turtle Rock” situated at the gate of the village – it is said that a turtle endeavored to cultivate itself into the heavenly realm, but fell down and being dismembered by the Thunder God, and then transferred into a rock – the village is named after the rock, and also echoes from this heritage.
Two short films by Richard Yaochi Chen
THE MOUNTAIN (1966)
Director: Richard Yao-chi Chen
Country: China, Running Time:19 min
The director follows three art college students Huang Yong-song, Mou Tun-fei, and Huang Gui-rong as they enjoy an excursion into the mountains. As the song “California Dreamin'” plays, the three talk about their artistic ideals, how only KMT party members were eligible for scholarships, and their view on the Vietnam War.
THROUGH THE YEARS (1964)
Director: Richard Yao-chi Chen
Country: China, Running Time: 11 min It is said that when America began its westward territorial expansion, every mile of train track laid down cost the life of a Chinese migrant worker. Mixing fiction with documentary, the film shows trains racing past ramshackle forts and barren deserts as a waltz plays on, with the desolate scenery contrasting with the tourists’ smiling faces.