Glasgow gets ready to welcome a banquet of great new Chinese films to
coincide with the Chinese New Year. Here’s a beginner’s guide. Words: Tom Charity
lectric Shadows (a literal translation of the
('hinese word for ‘cinema‘) follows on from last
year‘s ()verseas (‘hinese film festival. and the organisers hope it will become an annual fixture in the Chinese Spring Festival. lixtending its scope and range. the festival now features more than a dozen films in three venues. with special events attached.
There's a common theme. of sorts ~ the ('hinese diaspora. which is why you‘ll find movies from llong Kong. Taiwan. Singapore and Australia as well as the mainland. Identity. immigration. and tradition versus integration are central preoccupations for (‘liinese filmmakers everywhere. and the festival could easily have included four or live times as many films without exhausting the possibilities.
While ('hinese cinema has its strengths. it tends to he on the fringes. The big hitters in terms of international arthouse appeal hail from further afield: there‘s llong Kong‘s Wong Kar-wai. and llou llsiao llsien is from Taipei. The former is represented here by In the .iIrmr/g/‘m‘ Love. and the latter by ('lty (tl'SralIteszv. his IUX‘) masterpiece. and Millennium .thmlm. from 200]. which looks unlikely to ever get l'K distribution. These three movies are the festival‘s crown jewels. and all are strongly recommended. though you will have to adjust to llou's slow-burn pace. an almost subconscious sense of life enveloping you by increments. The woo/y. ravey Millennium Mani/m is llou’s first take on contemporary youth culture for some time. The stunning Shu Qi plays Vicky. a nightclub hostess who can‘t quite bring herself to leave her waste of space boyfriend. A bit like Lynne Ralltisey“s .WUI'H’I'II ('allar. it's a film of moods. internal emotions. fleeting impressions. And it stays with you.
()f the mainland titles. ('razy ling/[sh is an engagingly bizarre documentary from '/.hang Yuan. All 'Iiniini'inir's Parties is a fascinating futuristic allegory by Yu l.ik Wai. the excellent Sixth (ieneration cinematographer on Plat/arm. Yu will be on hand for a 062A after the film. and presents a masterclass on Thursday 2‘) at the ('(':\.
Re-imagining (‘hinese (‘inema. /)lll‘l(lll Durian is an
22 THE LIST 7.“ .Ji:" 5, E at. L" .'-
TAN CHUCKS IN PIERCINGS AND DRUG MULES
almost casually naturalistic improvised drama from the prolific llong Kong independent l’ruit (‘han. about a provincial girl who comes to llong Kong and makes a packet as a prostitute. Regrettably. the film‘s companion piece. l.ittle ('lieiing. has had to be withdrawn from the festival. lts replacement is (‘lara Law’s Floating l.i/e. Law will also attend the festival. disctissing l’loating Life and The (int/(less of" [967. (her pan-cultural .r\ustralian road movie). She will also give a workshop on Women and (‘hinese ('inema. at the (iilmorehill (‘entre (Saturday 34 January). It's free. but pre-hooking is required. A third masterclass features l)ai Sijie. writer-director of the rather sentimental crowd pleaser. Balzac and the Little (‘llllll’M’ .S'eanistress (Hi 30 at the (‘ampanile llotel). Again. this event is free. but it will he conducted in l-‘rench; pre-book via the Alliance l-‘rancaise.
The most controversial film on show will be Royston Tails [5 (pictured). a punky look at youth gang subcultures in Singapore. Declared a threat to national security by the authorities there. IS is a vigorous example of l)\' experimental. Tan chucks in pop pyrotechnics. gross gags. adolescent larcenies. computer games. piercings and drug mules. lixpect lots of walk- outs. but it has an authentic anarchic energy. and two or three inspired moments.
liinally. don't miss (loin/live Dragon Inn from the acclaimed Taiwanese director Tsai Ming l.iang. Set almost entirely in a cavernous old Taipei cinema. it‘s a movie of long. static shots revealing a near-empty auditorium. Nothing much happens. and nothing is even said for 4() minutes but deadpan absurdist comedy segues into conceptualist reverie. ()n and off screen space mirror and echo each other so that even the walk-outs feel like part of the spectacle. Hopefully this won't prove too prophetic a choice for the closing night of this remarkable festival.
Electric Shadows, Glasgow’s Second Overseas Chinese Film Festival: Fri 23 Jan till Thu 5 Feb at the CCA, GFT and U60, Glasgow. All tickets £4 (£2.50). For more info visit www.dimsum.co.uk or www.scotchina.org
Lights. camera, action! Iii} ﬂea :rﬁw ,‘
OK. YOU APATHETIC BUNCH OF scumbags. After the miserable response to the recent Timecode DVD competition run in Rough Cuts. l was thinking of not running one ever again but here is one last attempt to come to you bearing gifts. To win a copy of Ozu's Tokyo Story. an excellent book of essays investigating the lasting appeal of the great Japanese filmmakers most well known film. edited by David Desser. then just drop us an email to prOiiiotions<a>Iist.co.uk by no later than 6 February 2004. Please include your home address. Usual List rules apply.
FANCY SEEING A
psychedelic musical about a 40-year-old man who can’t, or won’t, grow up? Well now is your chance with a new independent movie called Gordon Bennett. A weird collaboration between producer and musician Tim Brinkhurst and actor Matthew Zajac, the film is getting a one night only showing at Nicol Edwards Public House, 29 Niddry St, Edinburgh, EH1. 7.15pm Fri 30 Jan. Free. CANADIAN CINEMA: ISN‘T THAT like moose poo in a metal Cylinder? Well no it's not. actually. North of Hollywood: New Canadian Cinema season runs at the Filmhouse, Edinburgh trom Thu 22~Wed 28 Jan. Highlights include Keith Behrman‘s excellent Flower and Garnet. FOREWARNED IS FOREARMED, so put this little pearl in your diary: on 12 Mar, the Filmhouse, Edinburgh will start doing midnight screenings again, with a bar open until 3am. The events will be called ‘the Secret Cinema’ and cult cinema will be the order of the day. Watch this space for details.