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BRICS Film Co-Production “Half the Sky” Focuses on Women’s Stories

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The second BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) film co-production project is underway, with women’s stories at its core.

Chinese leader Xi Jinping initially proposed the idea of such joint film productions at the 8th BRICS Summit in Goa in 2016, and the first co-directed anthology, Where Has Time Gone?, was released last October. The project was led by renowned Chinese film director and screenwriter Jia Zhangke, who directed China’s entry in the anthology, entitled “Time.”

The film co-production plan to date specifies that one film will be made and released every year from 2017 to 2021, according to Sina (link in Chinese).

For 2018, Jia is executive-producing the second BRICS co-production, entitled Half the Sky after Mao’s famous aphorism about women in China. Award-winning director Liu Yulin will helm China’s contribution, joined by four other female directors: Russia’s Elizaveta Stishova, Brazil’s Daniela Thomas, India’s Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari, and South Africa’s Sara Blecher. The theme for all five short films is “contemporary women’s feelings and society.”

Speaking at a press conference held during the 21st Shanghai International Film Festival last weekend, Jia Zhangke said (link in Chinese):

At the Pingyao International Film Festival that we held in 2017, three-quarters of the awards were won by female directors. Indeed, female directors and women’s stories are creative and lively. We can say that they hold half of the ‘sky of film’ […] 

Inspired by this, we thought that maybe we can make ‘Female’ the theme of the second BRICS co-produced film, and invite outstanding, creative, and internationally influential female directors from the five countries to make a film together. A lot of filmmakers — especially women — echoed the idea […]

We hope that via these five directors’ work, women will be heard and understood. We focus on the realization of their values.

Liu Yulin’s short film for Half the Sky is called Jiaozi (饺子; “dumplings”), and tells the story of a relationship between a mother and her daughter. She gave a brief introduction to the film at the press conference:

Jiaozi stands for Chinese culture. I put some Chinese cultural features in the film, [treating] jiaozi as a carrier that triggers the story and introduces the relationships between characters, as well as the living environment, decoration, and music in the film. I want audiences from all over the world to see what glorious things are given to Chinese people in China.

A graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, Liu’s 2016 debut, Someone to Talk Towas an adaption of the novel One Sentence Is Ten Thousand Sentences. The book was written by Liu’s father, Liu Zhenyun, a famous novelist and screenwriter who has collaborated with director Feng Xiaogang for over a decade.

Half the Sky will hit theaters in China later this year.

Cover image: Jia Zhangke and Liu Yulin (Sohu)

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Fan Shuhong
    Shuhong (aka Rita) is a language instructor, English/Chinese translator, writer, and proud bunny owner based in Beijing. She's previously worked in Washington D.C. and IUP at Tsinghua University. She loves Chinese language, Japanese arts, post-rock music and good English TV series. Instagram: rita_van

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