DVD + Short: August 15th and Electric Shadows

Monday, June 02, 2008

August 15th

I caught this over the weekend on Netflix, and if you get a chance you'll definitely want to check it out. It played down at Sundance this year where it got an honorable mention and also just got accepted by the 2008 Cannes Film Festival’s Cin√©fondation earlier this month (which is a foundation that was created to support the next generation of international film-makers).

Here's some information about the short as well as some comments from director Xuan Jiang of Beijing (this was her thesis film at the California Institute of the Arts):

The 21 minute film was inspired by a true story. A young Chinese woman and her boyfriend board a bus and head home to meet his parents. But the trip turns unpredictable when two young men hijack the bus. Traveling through China’s rural mountains, every passenger must decide how much they are willing to sacrifice to preserve their own safety and dignity.

"I felt anger when I read the news stories on which August 15th is based," recalls Xuan Jiang. "What still lingers in my mind, are the faces of the people on that bus. Some might dismiss what happened as common, but I couldn't let go so easily. As I passed people on the street or the subway, I looked at their faces. I couldn't help but think any one of them could have been one of the people sitting on that bus. Ever since then, I wanted to make a movie about those silent faces. About moments in life where one choice can completely change who we are."

The cast includes Tingyi Meng, Tao Bian, Shaoshi Qu, Xinxi Zhao, and Lu Cai. The movie’s dialog is in Mandarin, with English subtitles, and it was filmed in China.
Read more from the full article here.

Electric Shadows

While I had heard about this movie before (released in 2005 in the U.S.), I never took the time to actually see it, so I finally picked it up for a weekend view and it was pretty good (I'd give it 3 1/2 out of 5 not because I couldn't believe the story, but because I thought the ending wrapped up too quickly):

Mao Dabing, an easygoing film buff, works delivering water bottles in Beijing. One day after he accidentally crashes his bike in an alley, he's suddenly brained with a brick by a disturbed young woman, Ling-ling. Arrested by the police, Ling-ling remains silent, but she gives Dabing the key to her apartment, asking him to feed the fish. Her place turns out to be a shrine to the movies, and especially to one star, legendary '30s singer-actress Zhou Xuan. As Dabing reads Ling-ling's private diary, the film flashes back to Ningxia province in the early '70s and the story of Ling-ling's mom, Jiang Xuehua.
If you want to know more, check out a past NY Times review.