Filmmaker Jia Zhangke’s MOUNTAINS MAY DEPART

10 October 2016

Jia Zhangke is a controversial figure in China and isn’t always appreciated back at home. On the one hand, he is one of the most critically acclaimed Chinese filmmakers today. On the other hand, his works went through scrutinized censorship by the Chinese authorities, some of which were even placed in distribution limbo. Jia’s films, often remind Chinese audience about the loss of humanity and the absurd shift in identity accompanying the country’s economic boom, are conceivably harder to digest. The writer-director of modern classics such as Platform(2000) and Still Life (2006) has never been known for his blockbusting potential in the domestic box office. But Jia struck a new obstacle when his 2013 film, A Touch of Sin, was arbitrarily denied a release at home despite winning the best screenplay award at the Cannes Film Festival.

On Oct. 10th (Monday), International Film Forum is going to present controversial Chinese filmmaker Jia Zhangke’s most recent film Mountains May Depart (2015, China/France/Japan, 131 min.) Against the pungent take on social disruption in China, Jia’s Mountains May Depart takes a more personal approach to explore the theme of change, loss, and regret. Jia denies that he took a less controversial project to avoid trouble with the authorities. “It is just that the subject of this film has more to do with emotions. […] 

What matters to me the most is the individual’s place in the world when major changes are unfolding in the background. 

After making A Touch of Sin, I came to the astonishing realization that people’s values and outlook have really been affected by economic changes and technological shifts. Money isn’t a suitable way to gauge our emotions, but it takes time to understand this.”

​ ​”I wanted to investigate human emotions on many different levels within many different relationships. I wanted to think about them like blood in your bloodstream. In your daily life, you don’t feel it flowing in your veins, but when certain situations happen, you will feel a certain influx or outgoing of the blood to your face or certain parts of your body. I wanted to always go back to how you react in certain situations dealing with love, loss, and death.” – Jia Zhangke 

“Mr. Jia has characterized Mountains May Depart as his most emotional movie, which may underplay how deeply moving his work can be. While he invariably addresses larger cultural, social and political issues, sometimes openly, at other times obliquely, what makes his work memorable is how those larger forces are etched in the faces and bodies of his characters, in the coal dust that defines one man’s reality — and, by extension, one China — and the hard mask that defines another truth, another China.” –Manohla Dargis, The New York Times

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