China, 2017, 7’, Mandarin
Dir/Scr/Ed: Xiao Yao
Ph: Xiao Yao, Wang Simiao
Music: Pan Snoic
China Central Academy of Fine Arts
Best experimental film, China Independent Film Festival 2016
A 25 year-old filmmaker remembers her mother’s life and passing from cancer in this beautifully designed, exquisitely allusive experimental short. Black and white images of bodies scarred and decorated, faces tearful and serene, alternate with elegant landscapes and abstractions. Cinema works to transform the narrator’s longing into the indelible visual and aural memories she desires and requires, in this prize-winning graduation work from the China Central Academy of Fine Arts.
China, 2017, 115’, Mandarin
Co-dir/Scr: Huang Ji, Otsuka Ryuji
Ph: Otsuka Ryuji
Ed: Liao Ching-song
Music: Lim Giong
Producers: Hsu Hsiao-Ming, Otsuka Ryuji
Executive Producer: Ruby Chen
Production Companies: Yellow-Green Pi, Coolie Productions
Cast: Yao Honggui, Xiao Liqiao, Yao Fang, Huang Zifang, Liu Xiaoling, Yan Shixiang
Best Artistic Originality Award, 2017 Xining First Film Festival
Chinese cinema has very few filmmakers like Huang Ji, an independent woman director willing to film tough, realistic, compassionate stories about young women growing up. Her first film Egg and Stone won prizes around the world; with Foolish Bird Huang picks up the story, based on her own life, of Lynn, now a 16-year-old high-school student left behind by her absent working parents in rural Hunan province.
Egged on by her best friend May, Lynn decides to sell some of the cellphones entrusted to her care for quick cash. She is her high school class monitor and her classmates must deposit their phones with her at the beginning of each day. Not a smart idea, as it turns out. Lynn and May use the money from the phones they sell to hang out in internet cafes, where they latch on to a group of possibly enticing but certainly threatening young ruffians. Though they can take care of themselves to a point, May’s sketchy influence on Lynn leads her to explore areas beyond the outer edges of acceptable behaviour at a particularly vulnerable point in her life, on the cusp of adulthood. A non-consensual, violent encounter with the young thugs exposes Lynn to fears that she’s made an irredeemable mistake. At the same time, the two friends hear news reports of a shocking rape-murder of one of their classmates, leading us to ponder how the two stories will connect.
Non-pro actress Yao Yonggui is absolutely terrific as Lynn, navigating the opportunities, attractions and dangers of adolescence with a gutsy power and a sure sense of her own budding sexuality. Co-directors Huang Ji and Otsuka Ryuji (he is also co-screenwriter and the film’s cinematographer) have made a coming-of-age story in China with unprecedented daring, honesty and maturity.