The Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF), which kicks off later this month, has a pretty killer lineup of Chinese films as a major part of its 2018 program. SIFF launched its China Stars Showcase in 2016 as a collaboration with Hainan Airlines, showcasing the work of five shorts by students from the Beijing Film Academy that year. In 2017 they beefed up the program, showcasing five shorts and six features, including Liu Jian’s Have a Nice Day, which premiered to warm reviews at Berlinale that year.
SIFF recently announced its 2018 China Stars lineup. It’s the biggest yet with ten features total, including several North America premieres. Top billing goes to two films that have already made a splash in the US: Hao Wu’s documentary on livestreamers in China, People’s Republic of Desire, which premiered at SXSW in March, and Vivan Qu’s Angels Wear White, which addresses sexual abuse in rural China, and saw a limited theatrical release in the country as the #MeToo movement was first gathering force, and just as a kindergarten sexual abuse scandal was brought to light in Beijing.
“These people glide by us every day”: Filmmaker Han Xia on the Impact of Angels Wear White
“The Internet Giveth, the Internet Taketh Away”: Director Hao Wu on “People’s Republic of Desire”
SIFF also features another 2018 film buzzing the US festival circuit in Cathy Yan’s Dead Pigs, which premiered (and took home an award) at Sundance in January. The film puts Atlanta star Zazie Beetz in rapidly developing contemporary Shanghai, and seems to have set Yan on a fast-track to bigger things — she was recently tapped to direct an upcoming DC Comics spinoff for Joker accomplice Harley Quinn.
Additionally, the festival will give North American viewers their first chance to see a few lesser known films from China’s indie scene, including Girls Always Happy, the debut feature from Beijing director Yang Mingming, which debuted at Berlinale in February. Asked about the prospects for independent cinema in China, Yang told RADII in March:
The major obstacle is still the limit on subjects and themes. Chinese films are the most hopeful films. This is because we have countless topics and countless themes. It’s also because we’ve just begun to develop our own cinematic language. We’re in an early state of enlightenment, there’s a massive amount of energy that’s ready to be released.
“Our Own Cinematic Language”: Beijing Director Yang Mingming on Her Debut Feature Film
Find the full program of SIFF’s 2018 China Stars Showcase here. The festival runs from May 17-June 10; if you’re in the area and want to get some tickets, do that here.
Cover image: Still from “Dead Pigs” (Variety)
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