If you are interested in understanding China, you will be interested in the films we are introducing here. And if you happen to be in New York this month, you have the opportunity to see them on the big screen. From the Guggenheim’s doc series investigating the country’s political, social, economic, and cultural conditions to this year’s National Day box office victor in the mainland, this October slate truly presents a panorama of China. — Haisong Li
‘The Rider’ (Dir. Chloé Zhao, 104 min, USA, 2017)
10/12, 10/14, 10/15 at Film Society Lincoln Center
After suffering a near fatal head injury, a young cowboy undertakes a search for new identity and what it means to be a man in the heartland of America. Zhao’s ‘The Rider’ “marries the majestic vistas of the greatest American westerns with a deeply interior story of a cowboy having to renegotiate his identity (Ben Croll).” Director in Attendance. Watch a clip HERE.
Margaret Mead Film Festival
‘Almost Heaven’ (Dir. Carol Salter, 75 min, UK, 2017)
10/22 at American Museum of Natural History
This heartfelt coming-of-age story follows the life of Ying Ling, a 17-year-old trainee at a funeral parlor in Changsha, China. With a combination of humor and tenderness, the film captures Ying’s universal struggle to adapt to her new life: she calls her parents often, spends a night at the mall, and tries to stave off the boredom of daily work. Director in Attendance.
‘Never Say Die’ 羞羞的铁拳 (Dir. Yang Song & Chiyu Zhang, 100 min, China, 2017)
Opens on 09/29 at AMC Empire 25
‘Never Say Die’ is about a body-exchange comedy. A boxer and a journalist accidentally exchange bodies after they are struck by current, embarking a series of adventures. The new comedy stars most of the cast members of ‘Goodbye Mr Loser’, the troupe’s highest-grossing movie and the first movie adapted from one of Mahua Funage’s theater plays.
‘Chasing the Dragon’ 追龙 (Dir. Jason Kwan & Jing Wong ,128 min, China, 2017)
Opens on 09/29 at AMC Empire 25
Donnie Yen stars as infamous real-life drug kingpin Crippled Ho, who came to Hong Kong as an illegal immigrant in 1963 and ruthlessly carved an empire from the chaotic underworld of drug dealers and corrupt police that ruled the city under notorious detective Lee Rock (Andy Lau).
‘Sky Hunter’ 空天猎 (Dir. Chen Li, 118 min, China, 2017)
Opens on 10/06 at AMC Empire 25
After the Chinese government discovered that there was a big conspiracy behind all the terrorist attacks, the Chinese air force has to destroy the entire terrorist organization. And the responsibility to defend the honor and the safety of The People’s Republic of China fell on Wu Di (Chen Li), Zhao Yali (Bingbing Fan) and other young pilots’ shoulders. Watch the trailer HERE
‘Our Time Will Come’ 明月几时有 (Dir. Ann Hui, 130 min, China, 2017)
Opens on 10/06 at Metrograph
Ann Hui, a Hong Kong auteur whose output marks her an equal of Stephen Chow and Tsui Hark, returns with this tense, tough historical drama set amidst the Japanese occupation during World War II, in which school teacher Zhou Xun gradually commits to violent action on the side of the resistance. Watch the trailer HERE
‘City of Rock’ 缝纫机乐队 (Dir. Chengpeng Dong, 117 min, China, 2017)
Opens on 10/06 at Regal E-Walk Stadium 13 & RPX
A young musician from a small town in China tries to save his town’s treasured Rock Park by organizing a charity rock concert. Watch the trailer HERE.
‘Human Flow’ (Dir. Ai Weiwei, 145 min, Germany, 2017)
Opens on 10/12 at Angelika Film Center
‘Human Flow’ gives a powerful visual expression to the global refugee crisis. Captured over the course of a year amid 23 countries, the documentary follows a chain of urgent human stories that stretches across the globe, and acts as a witness to its subjects and their desperate search for safety, shelter and justice. Q&A Saturday 10/14 following the 1:50 PM show with Ai Weiwei. Watch the trailer HERE.
‘The Foreigner’ 英伦对决 (Dir. Martin Campbell, 116 min, China/UK, 2017)
Opens on 10/12 at AMC
A humble businessman with a buried past seeks justice when his daughter is killed in an act of terrorism. A cat-and-mouse conflict ensues with a government official, whose past may hold clues to the killers’ identities. The film, starring Jackie Chan and Pierce Brosnan, is a timely action thriller from the director of ‘Casino Royale.’ Watch the trailer HERE.
SPECIAL SERIES & SCREENINGS
Special Screening: ‘Golden Venture’ (Dir. Peter Cohn, 90 min, USA, 2006)
10/11 at Museum of Chinese in America
The film chronicles the ongoing struggles of passengers who were aboard the Golden Venture, an immigrant smuggling ship that ran aground near New York City in 1993. An examination of how political pressures, media scrutiny, and reactionary policies can warp human lives, Golden Venture is a timely meditation on the state of the U.S. immigration detention system. Followed by Q&A with filmmaker Peter Cohn. Watch the trailer HERE.
Opens on 10/14 at The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
‘Nightingale, Not the Only Voice’ 夜莺不是唯一的歌喉 (Dir. Tang Danhong, 180 min, China, 2000)
This film follows three marginal artists at the turn of the millennium, including the film’s director, on their shared journey through real and psychological oppression to self-discovery. US premiere. Director in attendance at the 10/13 screening. Watch trailer HERE.
‘We the Workers’ 凶年之畔 (Dir. Huang Wenhai, 173 min, China, 2017)
The “China miracle” has been built on the backs of hundreds of millions of migrant laborers. This film features workers from different provinces spanning two generations who have resisted this force through activist struggle and action. US premiere. Director in attendance at the 11/03 screening
‘Plastic China’ 塑料王国 (Dir. Wang Jiuliang, 82 min, China, 2016)
Special Screening: ‘Born in China’ 我们诞生在中国 (Dir. Lu Chuan, 79 min, China, 2016)
10/15 at BAM Rose Cinema
Special Screening: ‘Snakeheads’ (Dir. Ying Chan, Peter Kwong & Jon Alpert, 1994)
10/19 at Museum of Chinese in America
Undercover in the Fouzhou Province of China, a team of filmmakers initiate negotiations to bring Chinese slave labor into the United States. Followed by Q&A with filmmaker. Watch the trailer HERE.
This article originally appeared on China Film Insider, written by Chen Seng and Haisong Lee.