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June 4 & July 8, 2018

Cinema of Resistance

At a time when many feel called to resist the White House’s attacks on numerous fronts, we at the HFA feel compelled to do our part. Cinema has always been a method of examining the world the way it is, in order to understand it, to begin to change it, to imagine it otherwise. So we present a monthly series of films animated with the spirit of protest, of pointing out oppression and working towards justice. These screenings will be designed to spark discussion, beginning in our theater directly after the screening.

One of the shows is an addendum to our Visconti retrospective, and we are also pleased to welcome director Midi Z to discuss his film City of Jade with visiting curator Yangqiao Lu.

Midi Z’s visit is sponsored by the Taipei Cultural Center in New York, Ministry of Culture of Taiwan (R.O.C.). Special thanks to Caren Wu.

Film descriptions by Haden Guest and Hugh Mayo.



Midi Z in Person
Monday June 4 at 7pm

City of Jade (Fei cui zhi cheng)

Directed by Midi Z
Taiwan/Myanmar 2016, DCP, color, 99 min. Southwestern Mandarin and Burmese with English subtitles

For close to a decade, the young Myanmar-born and Taiwan-based filmmaker Midi Z has dedicated himself to a cycle of work that looks critically yet compassionately at his homeland. Alternating between fiction and documentary, Midi Z’s films offer patient chronicles of the difficult lives of Burmese citizens, refugees and exiles whose struggles often closely mirror those of his own family. After moving to Taiwan to study graphic design, Midi Z gradually found his way to film school, directing short work that eventually caught the attention of Hou Hsiao-hsien, who encouraged and mentored the young filmmaker. With his first feature film, Return to Burma (2011), Midi Z announced the major themes of displacement, instability and national identity that would continue across his work, explored now through a portrait of a construction worker whose return to Myanmar after years working in Taiwan only reveals how little has changed.

In City of Jade, Midi Z turns his camera upon his own family, reuniting with his estranged older brother shortly after his release from prison in Mandalay and joining him on an epic and precarious voyage in search of treasure in one of the most dangerous regions in Asia today. A courageous and singular documentary, City of Jade enters into a treacherous yet fascinating part of the world rarely seen on screen, offering a steady, almost dispassionate perspective over the desperate, nearly impossible hunt for precious stones and fortune that inspires men to risk their health and lives. City of Jade is also, however, a unique family portrait that searches for the truth of the relationship between two brothers whose starkly different lives and worldviews have made them near strangers.

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Sunday July 8 at 7pm

Viva Zapata!

Directed by Elia Kazan. With Marlon Brando, Jean Peters, Anthony Quinn
US 1952, 35mm, b/w, 113 min

The Leopard before The Leopard, Viva Zapata! must have been an event for Visconti to have seen in the early fifties. Hot off A Streetcar Named Desire, Elia Kazan reteams with Marlon Brando in his prime to create an elemental epic of earth, rock and sky. Myth permeates the screen as peasant guerrillas wage an invisible war for the rights to their land. The Marxist leanings, performances, formal proficiency and set design must have struck a chord: The influence is laid bare in the tryst sequence from 1954’s Senso, a nearly shot-for-shot remake of Zapata’s honeymoon scene.

Also screening as part of The Complete Visconti series.

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Harvard Film Archive • Carpenter Center • 24 Quincy Street • Cambridge MA 02138 • 617-495-4700