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Watch a Selection of Sino Cinema for Free as LA Chinese Film Festival Goes Online

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Like numerous other film festivals across the globe this year, the independently-organized Los Angeles Chinese Film Festival (LACFF) has seen plans for its 2020 edition disrupted by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. But in response, LACFF has decided to not only take events online, but to open them up to the public too — and for free.

The volunteer-run festival has set up a “virtual showcase” of previous entries: nine indie film productions, ranging from nine to 40 minutes long and covering subjects such as identity struggles, chauvinism, stillbirth and rural Chinese life.

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Here’s a run-down of what you can find as part of the selection.

A bizarre science experiment forms the backbone of Qianli Sha and Weijia Cao’s The Veterinarian, with two villagers getting mixed up in attempting a human to cow blood transfusion. Meanwhile in The Tour by Yu-han Tsai, Li Qing heads to the rapidly industralizing city of Dongguan in Guangdong to look for his disappeared father in a journey filled with twists and turns.

In The Pregnant Ground, National Film and Television School graduate Haolu Wang directs Lu Huang as a woman who, after a traumatic stillbirth, comes to believe the ground beneath her apartment is pregnant. Jinshuai Zhang’s Taipei Blues also centers around a pregnancy, with 17 year old Angel Chen seeing it as a way out of a “bitter life.”

Ziwei Chen’s A Different Man examines chauvinism via the story of advertising company director An Jian, whose harsh treatment of a female employee who has recently returned from maternity leave comes back to haunt him. After suffering an accident, he wakes up in a world where gender roles have been reversed and the female employee is now his boss.

No Forks in the Road and The Way Home both tackle issues of identity and belonging. The former sees May at a crossroads over her Asian American identity after a chance encounter at a Greyhound rest stop; the latter follows 18 year-old Jimmy as he attempts to prove himself to “a Chinatown hooligan” on the US-Mexico border.

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Elsewhere, in Ah Gong, a young boy attempts to deal with the realization that his mother and uncles are planning to pull the plug on his bed-ridden grandfather; and in The Second Page, a foreign actor in Shanghai finds an audition for a major new TV show takes a series of weird turns.

All of the above films are streaming for free from now until October 5 on MontagePlay (and on Xinpianchang in China).

Cover photo: still from The Pregnant Ground.

Jake Newby
Jake Newby is a Shanghai-based writer and editor with more than a decade's experience living and working in China. Previously managing editor of Time Out Shanghai, he's also written for publications such as South China Morning Post and the Financial Times.