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I Love Beijing: The Films of Ning Ying

October 23, 2008 - October 27, 2008

I Love Beijing, October 25

“Ning Ying knows Beijing the way Martin Scorsese knows New York. . . . She is one of her country’s major talents.”—Peter Keogh, Boston Phoenix

Born in Beijing in 1959, Ning Ying attended the Beijing Film Academy alongside filmmakers like Chen Kaige and Zhang Yimou, but her small-scale, naturalistic, dryly funny studies of contemporary life set her apart from the directors of the Fifth Generation. In the 1980s, Ning studied at Italy’s Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia; there she met Bernardo Bertolucci, who employed her as assistant director on The Last Emperor (1987). Returning to China after six years in the West, Ning observed her native country with a distanced and ironic yet affectionate eye. Her Beijing Trilogy—For Fun (1992), On the Beat (1995), and I Love Beijing (2001)—is “a visual memory about this social moment,” a portrait of three generations of ordinary urbanites during the decade of change that followed the economic reforms of 1991. Perpetual Motion (2005) is the first of her films to offer a distinctly female perspective on China’s cultural transformations, while documentary works like Railroad of Hope (2001) expand the frame to include the concerns of rural people. With lucid visual intelligence, Ning’s films map the shifting physical and social topography of contemporary China, capturing places and people in perpetual motion.

Ning Ying is an artist in residence at PFA this fall, appearing in person to discuss her films and offering a master class on October 27. This series is presented in conjunction with the BAM exhibition Mahjong: Contemporary Chinese Art from the Sigg Collection.

Juliet Clark

Thursday, October 23, 2008
7:30 p.m. For Fun
Ning Ying in Person. In the Beijing Trilogy’s first installment, a meddlesome retiree finds an outlet in an amateur Peking Opera troupe. “Beautifully observed and splendidly acted.”—Tony Rayns

Friday, October 24, 2008
8:30 p.m. On the Beat
Ning Ying in Person. The centerpiece of the Beijing Trilogy is a sharply observed portrait of the city’s police and a sly, deadpan study of bureaucratic futility.

Saturday, October 25, 2008
6:30 p.m. I Love Beijing
Ning Ying in Person. The Beijing Trilogy accelerates to its conclusion: a cab driver navigates the new social terrain of a city under constant construction.

Sunday, October 26, 2008
1:30 p.m. Railroad of Hope
Ning Ying in Person. Ning’s sensitive, eye-opening documentary on internal migration. With shorts In Our Own Words and Looking for a Job in the City.

Sunday, October 26, 2008
1:30 p.m. Railroad of Hope

Sunday, October 26, 2008
4:00 p.m. Perpetual Motion
Ning Ying in Person. Sex and the City, Beijing-style: Ning’s latest feature views China’s recent transformations through the eyes of four successful, sexual, trash-talking women.

Monday, October 27, 2008
4:00 p.m. Master Class with Ning Ying (Admission Free!)

Series curated by Susan Oxtoby.

Presented in conjunction with the Center for Asian American Media, with the generous support of the Consortium for the Arts and the Center for Chinese Studies at UC Berkeley.

PFA wishes to thank the following individuals and institutions for their assistance with this series: Zhao Yan, Eurasia Communications Ltd.; Kitty Cleary, The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Stephen Gong and Chi-hui Yang, CAAM; John Groschwitz, Center for Chinese Studies; and Michele Rabkin and Laura Paulini, Consortium for the Arts.