Berlinale Blog Diversity and Nostalgy

Film still of “Jia Zhang-ke, a guy from Fenyang”
Film still of “Jia Zhang-ke, a guy from Fenyang” | Photo (detail): © Berlinale

Chinese cinema might seem under-represented at Berlinale 2015, compared to Berlinale 2014's buzz and hype around it, but its diversity and vigorousness do not stop to surprise.

In comparison to the Berlinale 2014, when three films were showcased in Competition and one of the three, Black Coal, Thin Ice (白日焰火),  was awarded the Golden Bear, it might seem that Chinese cinema has a less glamorous presence at the Berlinale 2015. Yet I think it is a good year.

China’s ethnic diversity

There are three beautiful films representing China’s ethnic diversity: River Road (家在水草丰茂的地方) showing the life of the Yugur people in Gansu Province, the film K picturing Inner Mongolia, and the Tibetan film Gtsngbo. There is also Jiang Wen's (姜文) ambitious Gone with the Bullets (一步之遥), which brings Broadway and a wide range of film references to 1920s' Shanghai. Participation of another renowned Chinese auteur Jia Zhang-ke can be felt through his role as executive producer and producer in K and as the main character in Walter Salles' Jia Zhang-ke, A Guy from Fenyang (汾陽小子賈樟柯). Although there is no film from Hong Kong, Chang Tso-chi's Thanatos, Drunk (醉•生梦死) and Doze Niu's Paradise in Service (军中乐园) transport the audience to Taiwan's past and present.

These films' diverse approaches and geopolitical settings truly enrich and embellish the scope of Chinese cinema or even better, Chinese cinemas, to emphasise pluralities and multiplicities.

The local and the global

In terms of negotiation between the local and the global, at the same time that Jiang Wen audaciously uses a lot of globally recognisable tropes and visuals to package his local concerns and settings, Li Ruijun and Sonthar Gyal introduce under-mediatised local practices and issues into the global arena. As for Emyr ap Richard, Darhad Erdenibulag, Doze Niu and Chang Tso-chi, they wander somewhere in-between. With films of varying scales, with heterogeneous doses of art and entertainment, from diverse localities and for all age groups, there is something for everyone.