Take a stock of the 10th CIFF: if independent does not mean wacky

 

Take a stock of the 10th CIFF: if independent does not mean wacky

The 10th China Independent Film Festival

10th China Independent Film Festival (CIFF) has given to Nanjing a three days full of qualitative Chinese cinema. Unfortunately, in Nanjing, not all the films selected were screened, since the event has been spread around China (Xiamen and Dalian have hosted CIFF in the past months).

Nevertheless, the selection made by the jury has basically offered the ten best features and the three winner short films.

Let's chart a course which can bring together all the feature films screened, not referring to production conditions, which were in some case very different and fluctuating, but rather for what concerned topics chosen by the directors. It seems that all the artists from Mainland China have been touched by the issue of bullying, gangs and corruption at low level; but at a deeper analysis, the cause of this matter lies in the loss of values. Here is the solution: to invest into relationships and love, the honest love.

Although this interesting vision about society, many of those independent works presented, were also able to offer a picture about China accurate considering the ambient: cinematography was largely able to enhance the typical grey light of some province in China, to intensify the lights and the shades (chiaroscuro), to appeal to a deep consciousness of the frame in order to communicate a double meaning.

After ten years, CIFF is the proof that the national cinema art is developing its own style and sight. Nevertheless, what the jury seems to have preferred has still too much to do with experimental: even though, during the public talks, has been frequently highlighted how "being independent" does not uniquely mean "out of the common" any more. For this reason, we cannot entirely agree with the Best First Feature award: "Around that winter" displays a kind of raw writing which needs to grown and sharpen. As well as "Deformity Sci-fi", where numerous gazes were uncontrolled and directed to the camera, against the concept of the magic of cinema. Therefore, also the technical immaturity has been, collaterally, rewarded.

As things are, we cannot really avoid to mention those three features we have considered the best ones: the ones that not only reached the public, but also presented a kind of original view and a personal understanding of what China is nowadays.

The special focus through which "Today my mother will get married" points out those adolescents left on their own, it was the crudest and most real representation that director Jin Ye could have ever offered. His idea not only shows the problem but even looks for the roots of this failure and suggests a way to get themselves free, no matter how dramatic the solution is. Additionally, those three kids who joined the adventures, were so deeply involved and convincing, to become some of the best actors seen during CIFF. Only Yang Shicong, main role in "Burned wings", might deal with this challenge, since his contribution to Zheng Kuo's story was the turning point for the whole film: however, it is also unavoidable to mention the outstanding job made by celebrating landscapes and the light of Hu Lu Island.

Last but not least, we finally agree on the prize given to Li Luo for his above-the-lines feature "Emperor visits the hell": the only experiment that did not forget to take care about the scene. It smells like a Lars Von Trier's attempt ("Dogville" or "Manderlay"), where the context does not belong to the narration and the public is forced into an imagination work that overtakes the traditional cinema. Here, story, literature, cinema and modern China are mixed and sublimate in something new and unexplored: a pleasant discovery in a black humour style, where the screenplay shows an outstanding intensity. Will we ever meet the Emperor into cinemas?

 

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