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November 21 - 24, 2003

From China with Love: The Films of Ning Ying

The most prominent female director to emerge from the Beijing Film Academy, Ning Ying has gained acclaim worldwide for her humorous, realist portraits of life in contemporary China, most notably in her Beijing trilogy (For Fun, On the Beat, I Love Beijing). In her most recent work, she continues her exploration of humanist themes but in a nonfiction context. The compelling results solidify her place among the masters of the New Chinese Cinema. This series presents three notable feature films and a new documentary.


November 21 (Friday) 7 pm - Director in Person
November 24 (Monday) 9 pm

Railroad of Hope (Xi wang zhi lü)

Directed by Ning Ying
China, 2002, color, 56 min.
With Mandarin with English subtitles

Each August, thousands of Chinese peasants, mostly women, leave their home province of Sichuan and travel 3,000 kilometers by train to harvest cotton in the flat, arid northwestern region of Xinjiang. Filmmaker Ning Ying took the three-day journey, documenting this internal migration—a relatively new phenomenon in China—with grace and sensitivity. Cued by simple questions such as “What worries you most?” the workers respond with sincerity and emotion. Railroad of Hope offers a rare glimpse into the aspirations and anxieties of people in China’s heartland.

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November 21 (Friday) 9 pm
November 23 (Sunday) 7 pm

For Fun (Zhao le)

Directed by Ning Ying
China, 1993, color, 97 min.
With Huang Wenjie, Huang Zongluo
Mandarin with English subtitles

This beautifully observed comedy opens with a tracking shot through the streets of Beijing, set to the strains of a Kurt Weill song in the background—a delightful signal of Ning Ying’s unique, boundary-crossing perspective on the new China. An old man, forced to retire from his life-long job as manager of the local opera house, meets up with a cantankerous group of elderly amateur singers in the park and organizes the men into a troupe of their own. In her simple, realist style, Ning Ying delineates her characters with precise, economical, and loving detail.

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November 22 (Saturday) 7 pm
November 23 (Sunday) 9 pm

On the Beat (Ming jing gu shi)

Directed by Ning Ying
China/Spain, 1995, color, 102 min.
With Li Jian, Wang Liangui, Li Zhanho
Mandarin with English subtitles

The award-winning third feature by Ning Ying is a subtly subversive portrayal of modern Beijing. Set within a desolate landscape of imposing skyscrapers amidst stretches of tenement housing, contemporary urban life emerges as a highly compromised series of negotiations between individuals attempting to embrace their own destinies and a state machine that manages to intervene in the most intimate affairs of daily life. Ning Ying’s gift is to gently capture the retail dispensing of ideology to the citizenry—from young policemen patrolling neighborhoods by bicycle to aged women who monitor the fertility of their female neighbors and parents who attempt to mold their children into “fitting” members of the society.

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November 22 (Saturday) 9 pm
November 25 (Tuesday) 9pm

I Love Beijing (Xiari nuan yangyang)

Directed by Ning Ying
China, 2001, color, 97 min.
With Yu Lei, Zuo Baitao, Tao Hong, Gai Yi
Chinese with English subtitles

 

I Love Beijing is the final work in Ning Ying’s trilogy of wry portrayals of Beijingers attempting to adjust to the fast-changing pace of contemporary China. Here, she focuses on Dezi, a Beijing cabbie who maintains a second life as a would-be Casanova. The changing array of passengers in his yellow minivan provides a microcosm of the urban scene—one that at times exceeds his ability to comprehend. His capacity for women, however, has no limits. He ventures through a summer-long series of short-lived relationships with women from all segments of society: a provincial waitress, a popular radio-show host, a school teacher, and a peasant from the countryside. Along the way, he is scammed, confused, used, and even loved a little.

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