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Chinese Films are Focus of Sixth Annual Asian Film Festival Hosted by the Pacific Basin Institute at Pomona College

Compelling Chinese film is the focus of the Sixth Annual Asian Film Series, hosted by the Pacific Basin Institute at Pomona College. The five-film series begins on Sunday, February 6 and continues with screenings on Feb. 13, Feb. 20, Feb. 27 and March 6. Each screening will begin at 7:30 p.m. and be shown in the Pomona College Rose Hills Theater, Smith Campus Center, 170 E. Sixth St., Claremont. For more information, call (909) 607-8065 or visit www.pomona.edu/pbi.

February 6 - Frozen (Jidu hanleng)
Directed by Wang Xiaoshuai, 1995, running time 93 minutes
A stunning and demanding film, this movie takes the audience into the world of Beijing's artistic avant-garde in the late 1980s and early 1990s. A daring young artist in Beijing is obsessed with performance art and makes his own suicide his last work of art. On the longest day of the year, he plans to melt a huge block of ice with his own body heat and die of hypothermia. He calls this protest against the coldness of society "Funeral on Ice." Based upon a similar performance staged in Beijing and shot in 1994, "Frozen" is a unique work even among independently produced Chinese films.

February 13 - East Palace, West Palace (Donggong xigong)
Directed by Zhang Yuan, China, 1996, running minutes 94 minutes
This controversial and compelling film centers on a sensitive young gay writer who is arrested at his favorite cruising ground and held by the police for intensive interrogation. The questioning quickly transforms into an unwanted run-through of his tumultuous life, seen in flashbacks: his childhood, parents, school, first sexual experience, and politics. His seductive manner begins to alternately fascinate and repulse the policeman, who is drawn to the complexities of pleasure and pain. In 1997, the Chinese government put director Zhang Yuan under house arrest and confiscated his passport. His friends smuggled this movie out of the country so it could be shown at the 1997 Cannes film festival.

February 20 - Suzhou River (Suzhouhe)
Directed by Lou Ye, running time 83 minutes
The river Suzhou that flows through Shanghai is a reservoir of filth, chaos and poverty, but also a meeting place for memories and secrets. Lou Ye, who spent his youth on the banks of the Suzhou, shows the river as a Chinese Styx, in which forgotten stories and mysteries come together. The director movingly portrays the “testimonies” of the river and his restless style captures the mood of a young generation, far from the tourist image of Shanghai.

February 27 - The Orphan of Anyang (Anyang Yiner)
Directed by Wang Chao, 2001, running time 84 minutes
Dagang is over forty, unmarried (not by choice), and unemployed. He takes on an orphan in order to receive 200 yuan as child welfare benefit. The film looks at his life and the lives of other lower class characters such as the orphan’s prostitute mother, his father dying of leukemia, and a ringleader. As the film follows them all, we come to understand how they have been severed from tradition and how they try to make something of their lives despite the hardship posed by the influx of capitalism.

March 6 - Blind Shaft (Mang Jing)
Directed by Li Yang, 2003, running time 92 minutes
“Blind Shaft” is a tale of two miners in an illegal mining town in the north of China. As it explores the life of these two men, the film reveals a side of contemporary China that most have ignored. From the 5th generation filmmakers to the recent independent filmmakers, there has not been a film that portrays the darker side of Chinese society as severely as this one. Li Yang shows how poverty lies beneath the rapid development of Chinese society and how it undermines humanity.

The Pacific Basin Institute at Pomona College is dedicated to expanding and enhancing comity and shared knowledge among the nations and cultures that face on the Pacific Ocean. A valued study, media production and research center for the distinguished, PBI also offers books, films and lecture programs to a general as well as academic audience. Pomona College has been a leader in Asian Studies among American college and universities since the turn of the past century.