Short Films From China

A great way to think about Film Festivals and Films in general, is to see whether you remember anything. Last year, I tried to to see everything i could, at the Amandus Lillehammer Internasjonale Studentfilmfestival.
A year has gone by, just to mention a few film that was shown at the festival, Utover Øvre Ål, a music video with Stein Torleif, a Scifi short film, Finite ”Dir: Marius Rolfsvåg” made by students at The Norwegian Film School and a family drama, Glasshus ”Dir: Erik Ivar Sæther”.
All of this is good, but nothing had more impact, then the Baltic Highlights, five films from the Riga Baltic Student Competition Program (2016). These short are made in another planet, they show you, another world, a world you had no idea it existed. From sexual experience in Seven Awkward Sex Scenes ”Dir: Liene Linde”, to strange man working in botanical garden ”Fading Beauty: Dir: Tormi Torop”. The most memorable film, Warm Silence ”Dir: Rinalds Zelts”, a Baltic film similar to Into the Wild (2007), with Tarkovsky aesthetic and not to mention Everybody Misses Pranas Ivanauskas ”Dir: Vygantas Bachmackij”

In this year program, they were showing nine films from China, five made by women ”China Women’s Film Festival”, four by men, first they showed the films by women, which included Seguedille ”Dir: Gao Ge” and Hunting ”Dir: Ting Cheongyu” both inspired by the Opera Carmen with Tony Scott style filmmaking.
The absolute masterpiece among the five was, The Test ”Dir: Jinsui Song”, a comedy film, about a mother, who wants her son to go to kindergartens in Hong Kong. The film starts like a documentary, giving the audience facts about, the conflict of enrolling children into kindergartens in Hong Kong «children in order to be accepted has to take a test».
The whole film is about a mother trying to teach her 3 year old son, Cantonese ”which fails in a comic manner”. Unbelievable portrayal of a mother by the Chinese actress, she is so believable that, you forget, you are watching a fiction film. For instance, her conversation with her husband, who is working in another city, the way she collects toys laying around the house, or the way she cleans sweat of her son. For about 25. minutes you are laughing at the situation, the son reminds you of you when you were a little boy, the mother reminds you, of your mother.

The day after, they showed, the four films made by the men, among them was the film, Pink Pill ”Dir: Xie Xiaoshan”, which is based on a true story, about a girl who gets bullied in school for being a lesbian, but done in a manner if i may use Jacques Lacan’s terms The Real. There is something of the real in this film, you encounter a piece of reality, transported to China, you feel you know them, while being perfectly aware that you have never meet these characters before.
And finally my personal favorite, is the short, The Night of Arzu ”Dir: Taobike Nizhamiding”, a film about a girl and a boy, it reminded me of the long tradition of films, set in cities, Sunrise (1927) being the first. You are exported to another planet, when the couple go to a hotel, police shortly after enter the room, scanning their passport, asking them all sort of question, Li Dan «Festival Director» explained, that hotels by law, have to call the police, when foreigners «Chinese from a different city» rent a room «to see whether they are terrorist».
Again thanks to Li Dan, who told me that these two characters were not Chinese, since they looked a bit different but are Turkish Chinese minority called Uyghur, who have been living in China since 8th-century, maybe earlier.

One thing, me and the director Taobike Nizhamiding, have been discussing, is the ending of the film. After the police leave, the girl falls asleep, he then proceeded to write his number on piece of paper, and leaves.
Expecting her to call him later, my question to the director, was why did he leave her, all alone in the hotel? Now it would be wrong to give you his answer or mine, hopefully you will have yours.