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UCLA Artist-in-residence: Jia Zhangke

The World  /  Still Life

The World
November 7, 2018 - 5:30 pm
Q&A with filmmaker Jia Zhangke and UCLA Professor Michael Berry.

Please note: This screening takes place at the James Bridges Theater on the UCLA campus.

One of China’s top filmmakers and among global cinema’s most consistent and urgent voices, Jia Zhangke has created one stunning portrait after another of a people and Chinese society in flux. The power of his stories is matched by a visual richness recognized at Cannes, Venice and film festivals the world over. The China Onscreen Biennial is delighted to offer a retrospective of Jia’s work, culminating in the West Coast Premiere of his latest opus and Cannes selection Ash is Purest White.

Documenting Destruction and Building Worlds

The World (2004)

Jia Zhangke’s fifth feature is set in Beijing’s World Park, a theme park modeled after Epcot Center where all of the great tourist sites of the world are collected in miniature. The director’s wife and longtime collaborator Zhao Tao stars as a dancer/performer who struggles in her relationship with her boyfriend, a security guard at the park. Juxtaposing opulent spaces and disenfranchised workers, The World unveils a scathing critique of globalism, meditation of the simulacrum in postmodern society, and a desperate vision of alienation in post-socialist China. It also marked a major turning point for Jia. It was his first film to be officially approved for commercial release by the Chinese Film Bureau.

35mm, color, in Mandarin with English subtitles, 143 min. Director/Screenwriter: Jia Zhangke. Cast: Zhao Tao, Chen Taisheng.

Still Life (2006)

Winner of the Venice Film Festival’s top prize in 2006, Still Life is one of Jia’s most acclaimed films. Time is running out for Shen and Han, who have separately arrived in the town of Fengjie to settle their relationships with their spouses. Fengjie, too, is being dismantled, its buildings demolished in advance of the rising waters of the Three Gorges dam. Far from sentimental, the film is a sublime vehicle for Jia’s inspired pans and heightened interest in the human character.

35mm, color, in Mandarin with English subtitles, 111 min. Director: Jia Zhangke. Screenwriter: Jia Zhangke, Sun Jianming, Guan Na. Cast: Zhao Tao, Han Sanming.