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I Love Beijing: The Films of Ning Ying

Thursday, October 23, 2008
7:30 p.m. For Fun
Ning Ying (China/Hong Kong, 1992)

Ning Ying in Person

(Zhao le). The Beijing Trilogy begins with a loving but unsentimental tribute to traditions and people forced into obsolescence. Required to retire from his job as a utility man at a Peking Opera theater, Old Han (Huang Zongluo) is at loose ends, wandering the backstreets of Beijing looking for something to correct. When he comes upon a group of amateur musicians in a public park, this inveterate meddler finds an outlet for his autocratic tendencies. Working with a mostly nonprofessional cast and shooting in a naturalistic, precisely observed style, Ning intersperses interludes of quiet with eruptions of social chaos; her humanist approach recalls neorealism—imagine Umberto D with a fulfilling hobby. For Fun beautifully evokes both specific realities and larger human needs: the need to be useful, and the need for art.

—Juliet Clark

• Written by Ning Dai, Ning Ying, based on a novella by Chen Jiangong. Photographed by Xiao Feng, Wu Di. With Huang Zongluo, Huang Wenjie, Han Shanxu, He Ming. (98 mins, In Mandarin with English subtitles, Color, 35mm, From The Museum of Modern Art, New York)