FilmClub will be screening A Touch of Sin, directed by Jia Zhangke, at the Tatham Art Gallery in Chief Albert Luthuli Street, Pietermaritzburg at 7 pm on Tuesday, October 11.
Says FilmClub’s Anton van der Hoven: “I firmly believe that we need news from contemporary China, the world’s most populous nation and an increasingly important player on the geo-political stage.
“What better way to do this than with the guidance of Jia Zhangke, a director who has a secure place amongst the best of contemporary directors? So in my view seeing our next film is something of a no-brainer, and rendered more so by the fact that, to my knowledge, Jia has not been screened in South Africa, even at our film festivals.”
China, as everybody knows, is now a global powerhouse. But the path it has taken to reach that status has entailed enormous upheaval, from the ruthless social engineering of the Maoist Cultural Revolution to the subsequent trajectory of rapid capitalist modernisation. But what has been the social cost?
Jia Zhangke, without doubt the leading filmmaker of his generation, has devoted his career to chronicling the human dimension of these upheavals, presenting his views in a growing body of works, both fictional and documentary.
This film tells four stories – all based on events that were widely publicised on weibo, the Chinese version of twitter – that are loosely interrelated, forming something like four variations on a theme.
But in something of a new departure, Jia also borrows from Chinese popular culture – and in particular the Chinese martial arts heroes of the wuxia genre – to highlight the sense of agency and resistance that persists, despite the depredations that often blight people’s lives.
Strikingly shot by one of the few true masters of digital cinema, the film offers a penetrating and deeply interesting account of life in one of the world’s leading superpowers and of the consequences of rapid social change – something that is taking place here in South Africa as well.
As usual, entry is R35 per person and The Tatham Coffee shop will be offering a soup and bread supper from 6pm onwards (at a very reasonable R40 per person). Safe parking is available in the government parking lot next to the gallery.