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New Noir: Chinese Crime Films

November 13, 2017 @ 8:30 pm - 11:00 pm

Film noir, as its meaning “black film” or “film of the night” indicates, is an art of darkness. For its connotation of pessimism and menace, crime, especially unsolved ones, has been a rare event in Chinese cinema, because it is considered by the authority as an admission to the discontents of life in what is supposed to be the people’s paradise. Recently, however, a new generation of young auteurs, working independently, has been reworking the tropes of Chinese spy film to address the country’s endemic corruption and violence, with films that portray drifting killers, frustrated police, and fatal beauties, all enmeshed in a web of vice and desire. Starting with BLACK COAL, THIN ICE, a landmark in Chinese crime film, and ending with FREE AND EASY, a post-apocalyptic dark comedy, this program is a witness to the birth of the Chinese mainland school of noir.

New Noir is part of the Creative China Festival, curated by Meng Xie, supported by Beijing Contemporary Art Foundation.

Co-presented by Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies

Please Note: Tickets are $11 each for general public, $9 for students and Brattle members, and $8 for seniors.  A total of 50 free tickets for screenings in the series are available to Harvard ID holders on a first-come, first-serve basis.  Please show your Harvard ID at the box office up to half an hour before the screening.  No advanced reservations are accepted for these free tickets.

BLACK COAL, THIN ICE (2014) dir. Diao Yinan w/ Liao Fan, Kwei Lun-Mei, Wang Xuebing [110 min; DCP]
Sun, Nov 12 at 5:30pm
A landmark in Chinese crime film, BLACK COAL, THIN ICE is a dazzlingly stylized mystery that blends Fincher-esque genre elements and social commentary. It all begins with the discovery of a hand on a coal conveyor belt. Cop Zhang (Liao Fan) tries to solve the case but, years later, the body parts are still showing up. The film won the Golden Bear for Best Film, as well as the Silver Bear for Best Actor, at the 2014 Berlin International Film Festival.

THE DEAD END (2015) dir. Cao Baoping w/Deng Chao, Duan Yuhong, Guo Tao [139 min; DCP]
Sun, Nov 12 at 8:00pm
With Dostoevskian undertones, THE DEAD END is a gritty tale of redemption for three men—a cop, a cab driver, and a recluse—who are haunted by shared guilt over their murderous misdeeds in an unsolved crime.

LETHAL HOSTAGE (2012) dir. Cheng Er w/Ni Dahong, Sun Honglei, Wang Luodan [97 min; DCP]
Mon, Nov 13 at 8:30pm
An ingeniously structured psychological thriller, LETHAL HOSTAGE takes place in a crumbling town on the China-Myanmar border.  A woman marrying her kidnapper is only the beginning of a series of emotional knots and dramatic twists in this superbly constructed crime drama.

THE COFFIN IN THE MOUNTAIN (2014) dir. Xin Yukun w/Huo Weimin, Wang Xiaotian, Luo Yun [119 min; DCP]
Tue, Nov 14 at 8:30pm
A striking feature directorial debut, THE COFFIN IN THE MOUNTAIN is an unflinching depiction of provincial entrapment where people’s lives are intricately intertwined through an accidental death. With an ingeniously constructed timeline, the film morphs from mystery to suspense and finally to irony.

FREE + EASY (2017) dir. Geng Jun w/Xu Gang, Zhang Zhiyong, Xue Baohe [98 min; DCP]
Wed, Nov 15 at 8:30pm
With tinges of the Coen Brothers, Jim Jarmusch, and Samuel Beckett, director Geng presents a portrait of a socio-economic system so flawed that it has veered into black comedy – a practically post-apocalyptic world where crime is the new normal. In a Northern Chinese industrial town, everyone – even the local monk – is running a con and the police are more interested in chasing girls than criminals.

Winner of a special jury award at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival


November 13, 2017
8:30 pm - 11:00 pm
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Cambridge, MA 02138 United States
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Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies

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