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UCLA Film & Television Archive and China Onscreen in association with Asia Society Southern California present

A Tribute to Feng Xiaogang: Youth

November 3, 2017 - 7:30 pm
director Feng Xiaogang.

Online ticket sales have ended; a very limited number of tickets will be available at the Billy Wilder Theater box office, which will open one hour before show time.

Director Feng Xiaogang has been blowing up the Chinese box office for over two decades ever since his first smash hit, the social comedy The Dream Factory (1997), virtually reinvented the Chinese New Year film genre. Since then Feng has criss-crossed genres—urban satires, historical epics, romances, action thrillers and war films—with populist alacrity. Frequently compared to Steven Spielberg not only for his longevity atop the Chinese film industry but also for the artier turn his films have taken of late, Feng works readily with American stars—Donald Sutherland (Big Shot’s Funeral, 2001), Adrien Brody and Tim Robbins (Back to 1942, 2012)—alongside his regular collaborators, including Chinese superstars Ge You (Cell Phone, 2003) and Zhang Hanyu (Assembly, 2007). The Archive is thrilled to host Feng in person for the Los Angeles premiere of his latest film Youth (2017) as part of a tribute honoring his artistry as China's leading popular filmmaker.

Special thanks to: Barbara Robinson, Janet Yang, Amelia Yi Zuo, Celia Hao, Lyra Chang, Robert Lundberg, Huayi Brothers Pictures Ltd., China Lion Film Distribution, Inc.


U.S. Premiere!

Youth  (China, 2017)

Feng Xiaogang began his show business career as a stage designer for an army art troupe. His latest feature strikes an autobiographical note as it follows a group of dancers in the People’s Liberation Army from their idealistic youth in the 1960s, performing Cultural Revolution standards, to their post-Mao adulthood marked by the twin shocks of war with Vietnam and market liberalization. Feng’s roving camera weaves an affecting tapestry of individual lives and musical passion intersecting China’s own momentous transformations of the past four decades.

DCP, color, in Mandarin with English subtitles, 146 min. Director: Feng Xiaogang. Screenwriter: Yan Geling. Cast: Yang Caiyu, Huang Xuan, Miao Miao, Zhong Chuzi, Wang Tianchen.


This screening is part of a series of tribute events taking place in Los Angeles.  Admission to the events below is FREE.  For more information please visit

October 24, 7 p.m.  |  UCLA James Bridges Theater  |  RSVP

Cell Phone  (China, 2003)

Feng Xiaogang favorite Ge You headlines this “painfully funny sendup of male mores, China’s middle-class aspirations and emerging obsession with technology – all set in the world of TV executives.” (Patrick Frater, Variety).  Ge plays TV talkshow host Yan whose life is upended one day when he leaves his cellphone at home.  Suddenly the ringing “handset” (as mobile phones are known in Chinese) becomes a “hand grenade” – as Yan’s producer pal in the film puns – blowing the cover off the TV host’s habit of extramarital dalliances.  A phenomenal success at the box office, Cell Phone provoked debate in China about the disruptive power of technology, and cemented Feng’s reputation as the socially-incisive director with the Midas touch.

DCP, color, in Mandarin with English subtitles, 107 min. Director: Feng Xiaogang.

Assembly  (China, 2007)

From the opening minutes when the camera lands smack in the middle of a pitched battle between the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and Nationalist soldiers, Assembly announces it is no conventional Mainland war movie. Instead this grunts-eye view of war with no heroes and the aftermath of war with no victory follows a PLA captain, played with ferocious intensity by Zhang Hanyu, who faces sequential punishment from faceless higher-ups – first in the Chinese Civil War against the Nationalists, then in the Korean War against the Americans – for fighting to the last man on the battlefield. The British Film Institute noted in its praise of Assembly: “Before this film Feng was known for his genius in provoking laughter from the audience; after this film, he has become recognised for his ability to provoke tears.”

DCP, color, in Mandarin with English subtitles, 124 min. Director: Feng Xiaogang.

October 25, 7:30 p.m.  |  CAA Ray Kurtzman Theatre  |  RSVP

Aftershock  (China, 2010)

Epic, tearjerking, yet quietly pointed in its depiction of the unequal social inheritances for men and women, Aftershock begins with the monster quake that devastated the Chinese northeastern industrial city of Tangshan in 1976. A sister and brother are buried in the rubble, and the question of their survival would reverberate through the next three decades in the lives of a son and mother, a daughter and father, and a daughter and her mothers. The film proved a seismic event as well, smashing box-office records in China as the country’s first domestic release in IMAX.

Note:  Aftershock will be introduced by a CAA representative who will speak about the agency's work in China and the changing landscape of U.S.-China media production.

DCP, color, in Mandarin with English subtitles, 135 min.  Director: Feng Xiaogang.

October 30, 7:30 p.m.  |  UCLA James Bridges Theater  |  RSVP

I Am Not Madame Bovary  (China, 2016)

Feng Xiaogang teams up for the third time with screenwriter Liu Zhenyun, adapting his own novel, in this sublimely droll telling of a village woman who doggedly pursues a grudge arising from a “fake divorce” from the provincial courts all the way to Beijing and the highest corridors of power. Belittled at every turn, stubborn Li Xuelian, played by “duly de-glammed” (Variety) superstar Fan Bingbing, yet manages to flummox all the male government suits who cross her path in her decade-long, determined pursuit of justice. Intriguingly irised in round and square-shaped mats, I Am Not Madame Bovary nabbed the prestigious FIPRESCI prize and the top Golden Shell award respectively at the Toronto and San Sebastián film festivals, while Fan won Best Actress at San Sebastián for her portrayal of an ordinary woman of incomparable chutzpah.

DCP, color, in Mandarin with English subtitles, 137 min.  Director: Feng Xiaogang.

Watch the conversation with Feng Xiaogang, Yan Geling, and Film Programmer Paul Malcolm: 

Part of: