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China Across Time: A Jia Zhangke Double Bill

China Across Time: A Jia Zhangke Double Bill

The most acclaimed of China’s Sixth Generation of directors, Jia Zhangke’s body of work resonates so vividly with audiences around the world due in no small part to his remarkable ability to provide a snapshot of the tensions facing his nation as it has dramatically evolved into the current era. A number of his films directly explore the nature of social, cultural, and economic shifts and the repercussions—both human and environmental—that have resulted from China’s seismic national growth. This double feature is devoted to two different but equally clever explorations by Jia of dramatic changes to his homeland, as well as to his own home province of Shanxi. The wry short film The Hedonists brilliantly collapses historical China with the country of today, when its characters’ job search lands them at a restored medieval city in Fenyang. The grand melodrama of Mountains May Depart charts its heroine’s journey through several decades, each reflecting (and, in the future segment, projecting) the pressures and desires of the time.

MOUNTAINS MAY DEPART

Jia Zhangke China, 2015

Fenyang, 1991: Shen Tao, a dance instructor, has two suitors, choosing Zheng, an entrepreneur-to-be, with a note of regret. 15 years later, the couple’s son, Dollar, visits his now-estranged mother. By 2025, lives Dollar in Australia, forgetting both his native country and mother.

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THE HEDONISTS

Jia Zhangke China, 2016

Set in his hometown of Fenyang, Jia Zhangke’s eccentric hybrid short stars the director’s veteran actors playing fictional versions of themselves. A frenzied job search leads to a comic exploration of the bizarre, novel relationship between China’s cultural traditions and free-reign capitalism.