The director’s latest documentary suffers from a fixation on the self-mythology of ordinary men.
Jia Zhangke describes her new documentary, “Swimming Out Till the Sea Turns Blue”, as “a journey not only into contemporary Chinese literature, but into the spiritual history of the Chinese people”. Appropriately, the film sees Gia in the role of a passionate tour guide who reconstructs the lives and experiences of four 20th-century writers through interviews and vivid glimpses of their hometowns.
The first subject of the documentary may be less well known, but he is also possibly the one closest to Gia’s heart. The director began filming in his hometown, the Jia Family Village in northern Shanxi province, with a good story about another local boy: Ma Feng (1922–2004), a principal at Shanxi’s rustic Shanyodan school in the 1950s and 1960s. person. .
However, the other three writers are the real draw of the film. In sequence, Jia Zhangke interviewed well-known novelists Jia Pingwa (b. 1952) and Yu Hua (b. 1960) before finishing the film with non-fiction writer Liang Hong (b. 1973). The discussion centers on themes that run through all of Jia’s feature films, including the individual’s pursuit of identity and freedom and his unbreakable ties to his homeland. His choice of subjects is telling. At a time when female writers are a dominant force in Chinese literature and non-fiction, her choice to interview just one woman – Liang, also the only non-novelist of the bunch – implicates the ways in which she “swimmed” into the past. What they may not have.
Viewers are first introduced to Jia Pinghwa – no relation to the director – as he takes in a why Opera performance in his hometown. why, like Jia Pinghwa herself, is from northwestern Shaanxi province, and Jia has been a longtime fan: her 12th novel, “Qin Melody”, was awarded China’s highest literary award in 2008. Continue reading full article Here
– This article originally appeared on sixth vowel.