I organised a screening of Chinese films in the Ertegun House in Michaelmas Term 2019 to be continued next year. The first screening took place on October 23 and the film I screened was Bi Gan’s Kaili Blues (2015). It is a film set in the foggy, mountainous region of south-western China, in a small town called Kaili. It is about a county doctor's search for his abandoned nephew, and how his journey turns mystical when he begins to encounter apparitions from his past and future. I did a presentation on this film in Trinity Term last year, so I want to create a chance for people who became interested in this film to watch it. Also, during that last term, I was writing a thesis chapter on this film, so it was especially beneficial for me to watch it again on a screen and discuss it with the other scholars. Moreover, this is a film that I personally enjoy a lot, so I was very happy to be able to share it with my friends at Ertegun House.
Critics point out that the dream-like vision, the local landscape and the long take (a distinctive 41-minute long shot) in Kaili Blues are influenced from films of a Thai filmmaker, Apichatpong Weerasethakul. So, in my second screening on November 14, I chose this filmmaker’s Tropical Malady (2004) to enable us to think about possible connections between the two works. Tropical Malady, like Kaili Blues, also has a dreamy, floating quality. It is a romance film about a relationship between Keng and Tong, a soldier and a country boy, which develops in a gentle, leisurely fashion. One thing that I was especially impressed by was its presentation of a man’s beautiful and strange encounter in a northern Thai forest with a tiger-spirit, then a tree monkey, whose chatterings are translated into subtitles.
Both screenings took place in the ground floor seminar room in Ertegun House. I ordered pizzas from Franco Manca, and prepared house wine and juice, as we did at past screenings. The two screenings have been a very cosy experience for us, and I find the discussion after the films especially illuminating! I am grateful for the support from the Ertegun Programme that makes them happen, and I am planning to screen a few more Chinese films in the House during Hilary and Trinity Terms.
Kaili Blues (2015) – Bi Gan
Tropical Malady (2004) - Apichatpong Weerasethakul