OFF got an eye on China

For the first time, Chinese short films had their own focus program during Odense International Film Festival. Short films were shown at Teater95b on the 31st of August where the audience met director Zhong Chen who showed his own productions as well as the productions of Chinese colleagues.

Chinese short films are an unknown quantity to most people, which differentiate themselves from western movies in several ways. Therefore, OFF opened up to a special Chinese program with seven short films. In addition, the audience met director Zhong Chen, who directed one of the films and spoke about the country’s short film tradition.

Zhong Chen was born in Sichuan and lives in Beijing. He represents a younger generation of experimental filmmakers, who take a different approach to common production methods. His short films have been shown at 50 film festivals, and he has received several international awards. Chen’s main characteristic is his way of combining dramatic events – both natural and manmade – with poetic and surrealistic effects.

Danish context

Chinese born Ann Guo Skov briefly talked about what Danes and Chinese can learn from each other based on her own personal and professional experiences from China to Otterup on Northern Funen. Peer Møller Christensen, ph.d. in Chinese and author of the book “Politics and ideology in China” put Chinese films into the context of the political and economic development in the country and gave examples of the significance of the short films in a historical perspective.

Film as an eye-opener

Despite China’s significance globally and the country’s longstanding film tradition, the knowledge that Danes have of Chinese cinema is very limited – especially when it comes to the short film genre.

FACTS ABOUT THE SEVEN SHORT FILMS

  • ”Last days before the flood”. Director: Zhong Chen. Story: The last days in the city Kaixian, before it is flooded by the gigantic dam construction in Southwest China.
  • “I would not mind, if you forget me!”. Director: Ma Zhondong. Story: A girl in a red dress walks through a grey big city. Contrasts and light flashes, when trees break concrete. She has faith in the future, but doubts the day to come.
  • ”The Butter Lamp”. Director: Hu Wei. Story: Snapshots of a Tibetan community in rapid change filmed on a location that locks the residents. The film was Oscar nominated as best short film in 2015.
  • ”Condolences”. Director: Ying Liang. Story: A burial ritual, which is followed by an audience in a distance. Slowly it uncovers the story about why neighbors, politicians and media appear.
  • ”Immortal by the River”. Director: Li Ning. Story: A fisherman is waiting patiently on his catch, while paper and mannequins float by in a world that can only vaguely be defined by time.
  • “Lifeline”. Director: Li Bin. Story: An anecdote of faith about an old man and his dog in a small mountain village. Contact to ancestors and the lines on hands predict what is going to happen.
  • ”The Poet and the Singer”. Director: Bi Gan. Story: Two murderers meet to share the loot. In the film a poet, a singer, a river and a Buddhist scripture appear.