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dir. Xie Fei, 1990
107 mins. China.
In Mandarin with English subtitles.
SATURDAY, JANUARY 4 – 7:30 PM
THURSDAY, JANUARY 9 – 10 PM
MONDAY, JANUARY 13 – 10 PM
Winner of the Silver Bear at the 1990 Berlinale, Xie Fei’s kitchen-sink drama BLACK SNOW was in production before the June 4 Incident, but reflects the bitterness and unease of the period from first frame to last without need for any explicit political statement or reference. In a smoldering early performance, Chinese superstar Jiang Wen (DEVILS ON THE DOORSTEP, KEEP COOL, ROGUE ONE) stars Li Huiquan, a derelict twentysomething returning home after a three-year term at a labor camp, having been implicated in the murder of a young man who was hanging out with his ex-girlfriend. Surrounded by alcoholic friends from childhood and squabbling adults in his claustrophobic slum, Li falls for a torch singer at his favorite nightclub named Yaqiu (Lin Cheng), and the ensuing struggles – freedom versus the need to make a living, going straight versus turning a profit – are unique to this vision of Beijing as a den of black-market iniquity, while linking seamlessly with the classic themes of film noir. Bleak but exhilarating to behold (largely thanks to Jiang’s tight-lipped leading turn), BLACK SNOW is ultimately about the lack of options for Li’s generation to have an undisturbed inner life, living in close quarters in the aftermath of the Cultural Revolution.
“Li represents a lost generation of young people who rebel against the ideals of their forefathers and the traditions of their country… The tragedy is that they are at a loss where to go or what to believe in. Everyone in China now wants to find a new ideal, a new belief, because the Cultural Revolution destroyed our old beliefs and our old system… We realized, after it was too late, that we had been deceived — we had destroyed our past, our values, our lives, but had created nothing.” – Xie Fei
From Born on the Fourth of June: Tiananmen Square Revisited.