Chinese cinema returns to Cannes official competition

Chinese cinema returns to Cannes official competition

PanARMENIAN.Net - “I’m back!” So reads Jia Zhangke’s tweet, a few minutes after Cannes Film Festival artistic director Thierry Fremaux unveiled the mainland Chinese director’s latest offering, A Touch of Sin, as a Competition entry on the Croisette this year.

Jia’s short message might be to mark his return to Cannes after a three-year lull – he was there the last time, competing in the Un Certain Regard sidebar, in 2010 with the documentary I Wish I Knew – but the tweet could also serve as his own clarion call for Chinese-language cinema, which will be represented on the Riviera next month by three entries in three different sections of the festival.

As The Hollywood Reporter Reveals, appearing alongside Jia in the official competition this year, however, will be two filmmakers coming from the very different end of Hong Kong’s industrial spectrum: Cannes stalwart Johnnie To will bring his thriller Blind Detective to the festival as an out-of-competition midnight screening entry, while first-time director Flora Lau will tread the tapis rouge with her debut, Bends.

But as the first Chinese-language film to compete for the Palme d’Or in three years, A Touch of Sin will undoubtedly be central to the Chinese charge for glory at Cannes this year. The first full-fledged collaboration between Jia’s Xstream Productions with a major national studio (Shanghai Film Group), the film revolves around four threads set in vastly different geographical and social milieus across modern-day China, ranging from the bustling southern metropolis of Guangzhou to the more rural townships in his home province of Shanxi.

Starring Jiang Wu, Wang Baoqiang (of Lost in Thailand fame) and Jia’s muse (and wife) Zhao Tao, the film is “a major production” made over five months with a 100-strong crew, he told Chinese web news portal sina.com. Jia described A Touch of Sin – a title punning on King Hu’s martial arts classic A Touch of Zen, which won a Technical Grand Prize at Cannes in 1975 – as a road movie with action scenes.

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