Cachinko

In collaboration with the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Film Department, FOTOFEST2008 and MFAH Films invited longtime colleague Cheng-Sim Lim to recommend a selection of films. Lim has curated a wide range of American and international film programs at the UCLA Film & Television Archive.

"Familial ties and traditional bonds of loyalty are undergoing harrowing redefinition as represented through the genre sylings of Hong Kong action maestro Johnnie To (Exiled) and the unadorned realism of Mainland Chinese indie rookie Peng Tao (Little Moth). In these films, as well as Jia Zhangke´s magnificent Still Life, heroism lies simply in waging the struggle to survive. The mood may be melancholy in I Don´t Want to Sleep Alone, the latest film by acclaimed New Taiwan Cinema director Tsai Ming-liang, but even when one dead-ends into a stagnant pool of murky water, a dirty mattress can turn out to be a lifeboat." -Cheng-Sim Lim

All films were presented at the Brown Auditorium, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston - 1001 Bissonnet www.mfah.org/films

NEW CHINESE CINEMA
MARCH 8-APRIL 6, 2008

Exiled (Fong juk), 2006, 110 min., subtitled
Directed by Johnnie To (Hong Kong)
Recommended for adult audiences only
SATURDAY, MARCH 8, 7PM
SUNDAY, MARCH 9, 7PM

On the eve of Macau´s return to Mainland China, four gangsters descend on an apartment in the picturesque colonial quarter. As they unleash their fearsome fusillade, it becomes evident that two members are gunning for the homeowner, and the other two are aiding the mark´s equally fierce defense of his life, family, and home. Just as quickly as it erupts, the ballistic mayhem is interrupted, and the antagonists sit down to a friendly dinner together. Thus begins Exiled´s deftly humorous ode - to Sam Peckinpah, John Woo, and spaghetti westerns - about twilight gangsters living out an endangered code of brotherhood and avenging its betrayal. Reuniting his ensemble from 1999´s The Mission, director Johnnie To crafts another peerless example of the balletic guts and glory of Hong Kong action.

I Don't Want to Sleep Alone (Hei yan quan), 2006, 118min., subtitled
Directed by Tsai Ming-liang (Taiwan/France/Austria)
Recommended for adult audiences only
FRIDAY, MARCH 14, 7PM
FRIDAY, MARCH 21, 7PM

Tsai Ming-liang´s moody valentine to his home country of Malaysia stars the director´s alter ego, Lee Kang-sheng, as a drifter in the capital city of Kuala Lumpur. Beaten by thugs and left for dead, Lee is nursed back to health by a Bangladeshi migrant laborer and begins a relationship with an ethnic Chinese coffee-shop waitress. With this seventh feature, Tsai limns a portrait of a society choking on its anxieties-from fear of criminal immigrants to the real ecological crisis of a city blanketed in smoke from forest fires in neighboring Indonesia-with visual finesse and his signature melancholy.

Still Life (Sanxia haoren), 2006, 108min., subtitled
Directed by Jia Zhangke (Hong Kong/China)
SATURDAY, MARCH 29, 7PM
SUNDAY, MARCH 30, 7PM

This stately new film by leading "Sixth Generation" director Jia Zhangke (The World) was made as a companion piece to his 2006 documentary Dong, about Mainland Chinese painter Liu Xiaodong. Echoing its documentary inspiration, Still Life weaves fact and fiction amidst the rubble of the doomed riverbank town of Fengjie, soon to be submerged by the rising waters of the Three Gorges Dam. A coal miner from the north travels to Fengjie in search of his runaway wife from 16 years ago, and a young nurse arrives looking for her estranged husband. Neither searcher ever meets the other, but their parallel tracks illuminate a landscape of bizarre contrasts.

Little Moth (Xue Chan), 2007, 99min., subtitled
Directed by Peng Tao (China)
FRIDAY, APRIL 4, 7PM
SUNDAY, APRIL 6, 7PM

Shot on digital video in South Central China with an entirely nonprofessional cast, Little Moth is the startling feature debut of indie filmmaker Peng Tao. An elderly man brokers the sale of an 11-year-old girl to his nephew for 1,000 yuan, and the nephew quickly puts his new fake nuclear family to work: The little girl and her "mother" are to beg on the streets while he acts as the lookout. But social relations are not what they seem. Begging turns out to be an organized racket, the uncle is an underground kingpin, and other people the "family" encounters are just as likely momentarily expedient facades for less savory exploitation.


IMAGINING CHINA
Short Films by Texas Filmmakers
organized by Southwest Alternate Media Project (SWAMP)
SATURDAY, APRIL 5, 7PM

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