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Unknown Pleasures: The Films of Jia Zhangke

Friday, September 19, 2008
8:30 p.m. Xiao Shan Going Home
Jia Zhangke, Youth Experimental Film Group (China, 1995)

(Xiao Shan hui jia). Jia’s student film from the Beijing Film Academy won the top prize at the Hong Kong Independent Short Film Awards, impressing with a hybrid aesthetic both naturalistic, in its gentle eye for those on the lower rungs of China’s vast urban migration, and experimental, in its buzzing found-sound soundtrack and word/image combinations. Wang Hongwei (the bedraggled star of Xiao Wu) is a soon-to-be-unemployed cook in Beijing; he’s anxious to head home to his rural village for Chinese New Year, but unfortunately none of his old friends—now construction workers, prostitutes, scalpers, and students—want to return with him. Rarely screened anywhere (this is the Bay Area premiere), Xiao Shan Going Home is a revelation.

—Jason Sanders

• Written by Jia. With Wang Hongwei, Jia, Zhu Liqin. (58 mins, In Mandarin with English subtitles, Color, Beta SP, From Hong Kong Arts Centre)

Preceded by short:
In Public (China/South Korea, 2001). Made in preparation for Unknown Pleasures, this observational documentary captures the anonymous residents of that film’s “Anytown, China” setting, the decaying mining city of Datong. (32 mins, In Mandarin with English subtitles, Color, Beta SP, From Sidus FNH)

• (Total running time: 90 mins)