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Cinema from China at the London ICA

In association with Film London, China State Film Bureau and the Mayor of London, the Institute of Contemporary Arts presents a season of films celebrating the diversity and breadth of cinema from China, in particular throwing the spotlight on Beijing. Over three weeks from 20 March to 10 April we will offer a dozen films covering a broad surveying of contemporary Chinese film; selected features will be preceded by a medley of international shorts Vision Beijing inspired by Beijing and life before the Olympics. The centrepiece of the season will be a special screening of Crazy Stone with director and cast Q&A on 27 March, and as a special bonus on 5 April, the ICA will host a one-off Go play-day for beginners and experienced players alike preceded by a screening of the Go Master.

Spotlight Beijing is part of the third China in London season, the capital’s biggest ever, which has seen some of London’s most prestigious cultural institutions such as, ICA, V&A, British Museum, Royal Academy of Music, Kew Gardens and the London Zoo put on over 500 events from February to April 2008. This year’s season celebrates the unique relationship that London and Beijing share as Olympic hosts and handover cities and one of the seasons spectacular highlights will be when the Olympic torch relay comes to London on Sunday April 6th. Over 300,000 people are expected to participate in the events, which range from free Chinese Opera Workshops for children, Chinese tea tasting and modern opera performances, to the Spotlight Beijing film season, Chinese Elderly Art Group performing traditional Chinese cultural and martial arts.

The ICA was among the first to champion the new wave of Chinese cinema during the 1980s, releasing Yellow Earth and The Horse Thief, in this season, we’re celebrating this heritage by releasing the great film-maker Tian Zhuangzhuang’s new film The Go Master. Extending the Go Master run throughout April we’re also including his earlier works The Horse Thief, Springtime in a Small Town, The Blue Kite and Delamu.

ICA Films New Release
The Go Master
from 28 March: cinema 1 & 2
Director Tian Zhuangzhuang follows the fortunes of Wu Qingyuan, master of the ancient game of Go, in this intense, stately character study. A native of China, Wu emerged as a prodigy who, at a young age, moved to Japan and rose to prominence as the top Go player in the world. The tumultuous Sino-Japanese relations that dominated the 20th century form a dramatic backdrop to this poetically rendered true story. [Dir Tian Zhuangzhuang, China 2006, 104 mins, subtitles, cert tbc]

Springtime in a Small Town
29 March: cinema 1
A remake of the 1948 Chinese classic, Tian’s film is set in a small town in southern China in 1946, where a respectable Chinese family takes in a young man who stirs up an emotional earthquake in their quietly repressed household. [Dir Tian Zhuangzhuang, China 2002, 116 mins, subtitles, PG]

30 March : cinema 1
A documentary filmed over 12 months in the remote border region of Yunnan Province and Tibet. Sumptuously photographed and at times heart-wrenchingly moving, this follows the incredible lives and culture of those living in the shadow of the Tea-Horse Road, one of the two ancient trade routes connecting China and Europe. [Dir Tian Zhuangzhuang, China 2004, 110 mins, subtitles, no cert]

The Horse Thief
5, 9 April: cinema 1 & 2
A couple of impoverished but pious Buddhists Norbu and Dolma live with their son Tashi in a Tibetan clan, impoverished they are reduced to stealing to live. The community shuns them, and tragically Tashi dies. After the arrival of another son, Norbu focuses all his efforts to regaining admission in to the clan and in do so risks everything to save them from certain starvation. [Dir Tian Zhuangzhuang, China 1986, 88mins, subtitles, no cert]

The Blue Kite
6, 10 April: cinema 1 & 2
Follows the effects of social changes in China on a young boy and his mother from the first years of Communist rule and nationalisation in the early 50s through to the start of the Cultural Revolution in the mid 60s. [Dir Tian Zhuangzhuang, China 1993, 138mins, subtitles, no cert]

Spotlight Beijing Gala Screening
27 Mar 6pm
Director Q & A with Hao Ning and guests
Crazy Stone
27, 29-30 March: cinema 1 & 2
Three thieves try to steal a valuable jade that’s tightly guarded by a team of security guards. An international ‘super’ thief is also after the same stone, leading to confusion and plenty of comic action. Preceded by Patrice Leconte’s short film Pekin. [Dir Hao Ning, China 2006, 98 mins, subtitles]

The Old Barber
20, 21, 29 March: cinema 1 & 2
Uncle Jing is a 93-year-old barber with over 80 years working experience. Even now he continues to move through the alleyways and backstreets of Beijing to the homes of his old customers, cutting their hair before returning home to work on an ancient clock that always runs five minutes fast. A record of one man’s ordinary and tranquil life in an fast-paced, ever-changing city. Preceded by Giuseppe Tornatore’s seven-minute film Reunion. [Dir Hasi Chaolu, China 2006, 103 mins, subtitles]

A Battle of Wits
21, 24, 30 March: cinema 1 & 2
A stunning historical action epic, based on a popular Japanese manga and set in 370BC China. The powerful city state of Zhao sets out to destroy the small city of Liang, in a seemingly one-sided assault that suddenly becomes more of a fair fight when a mysterious warrior arrives to help the underdogs. A huge production, graced by flamboyant action sequences and a grand style. Preceded by Andrew Lau’s six-minute short Color Aroma. [Dir Jacob Chang, China 2006, 133 mins, subtitles]

The Forest Ranger
23, 25-26 March: cinema 1 & 2
A dynamic revenge thriller in which a man moves his family to a remote village where he’s set to become the new forest ranger. His refusal to accept gifts and turn a blind eye to illegal logging leads to his lives being threatened and a violent showdown. Preceded by Iranian short film Colors Fly. [Dir Qi Jian, China 2006, 100 mins, subtitles]

3 City Hotshots
22, 24, 30 March: cinema 1 & 2
A fast-paced portmanteau film from three directors: a trio of tales following the lives of ordinary Shanghai citizens. Each story focuses on a different ‘city hotshot’ in a highly dramatic situation, including a ticket tout precariously balancing between cops and criminals and a young man whose marriage is threatened by a past encounter. Preceded by short British film Belief. [Dirs Li Xin, Wu Tiange, Mao Xiaorui, China 2007, 90 mins, subtitles]

Secret Trip
23, 29 March: cinema 2
A feature documentary from the China Central Newsreel and Documentary Film Studio about China’s postwar diplomatic missions and chronicling the experiences of the famous Communist politician Zhou Enlai. Full of previously unseen archive footage. [China 2006, 92 mins, subtitles]

A Great Master Recaptured
23, 30 March: cinema 2
A portrait of the most important Beijing Opera master of the 20th century, and another excellent documentary from the China Central Newsreel and Documentary Film Studio. Archive footage blends with beautiful theatrical performances. [China 2006, 84 mins]

Demonstration and workshop on Go (Weiqi) by Peter and Sheila Wendes of Zen Machine


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