1st CineCina Film Festival – Main Slate

Opening Film 

p2526059410Four Springs

LU Qingyi | China | 2018 | 105 minutes | DCP | North American Premiere

In Mandarin and Guizhou Dushan dialect, with Chinese and English subtitles

Four Springs is a documentary that presents a family’s daily life in a remote town in Guizhou over four years. From a subjective angle, Lu’s camera records scenes of everyday life: chores, singing, excursions into nature, visits to friends and extended family, funerals, reunions, and separation. The film offers an intimate portrait of its two main characters — Lu’s own parents — and their strength in the face of irretrievable loss in life.

April 5 | 7:30 PM | SVA Theatre | Q&A with director Lu Qingyi

April 9 | 5:00 PM | Symphony Space | Q&A with director Lu Qingyi

“Her Perspective” Section

p2418487820Golden Gate Girls

S. Louisa WEI | Hong Kong | 2013 | 90 minutes | DCP

In Cantonese and English, with Chinese and English subtitles

The history of pioneering women is often lost partially because historians find it difficult to “place” them within the larger historical context. This documentary weaves together the life of Esther Eng (1914-70), a San Francisco born Chinese woman who made ten Chinese films on both sides of the Pacific, and juxtaposes her story with those of two other pioneering women of her time: Anna May Wong (1905-61), first Chinese American actress to rise to international stardom, and Dorothy Arzner (1897-1979), the first and only female director to successfully transit from the silent to sound eras of Hollywood. The three women lived in a time when war lent them opportunities to achieve greatness, and yet their accomplishments were soon forgotten afterwards.

April 7 | 6:30 PM | SVA Theatre | Q&A with director S. Louisa Wei

p2517680547Havana Divas

S. Louisa WEI | Hong Kong | 2019 | 96 minutes | DCP | North American Premiere

In Cantonese, Spanish, and English, with Chinese and English subtitles

Caridad Amaran and Georgina Wong learned the art of Cantonese opera in 1930s Havana. Caridad’s mentor was her foster father, Julian Fong, who immigrated to Cuba in the 1920s after his family forbade him performing opera. Georgina’s father was a famous tailor in Chinatown, who encouraged her to learn Kungfu and lion dance. Although both were the single children, they formed a sisterhood on stage. Throughout the 1940s, Caridad toured cities all over Cuba with Chinese communities. Georgina quit opera to attend college, but her study was interrupted by Castro’s 1959 revolution and she was required military service. After retirement and well into their sixties, the two sisters are trying to perform Cantonese opera again. Will they find a stage? Will they find an audience?

April 7 | 9:15 PM | SVA Theatre | Q&A with filmmaker S. Louisa Wei


ZHOU Shengwei | China | 2018 | 95 minutes | DCP | North American Premiere

No dialogue

In the authoritarian world dominated by male shoes, female high heels are forbidden to work or even exist. Newborn baby girl shoes are transformed into male shoes so that they can work in the cigarette factory. In a birth prison, a high heel mother murders the male show chief to protect her daughter from being transformed into a male show. To feed her daughter, she uses the chief’s leather coat as a gender disguise and works in the cigarette factory. When her identity is exposed, she is ruthlessly ridiculed and tortured by her colleagues and superiors. Finally, she discovers her inner energy and begins to revenge in the name of her daughter.

April 19 | 5:30 PM | SVA Theatre

“Prism” Section


Jun LI | Hong Kong | 2018 | 119 minutes | DCP | North American Premiere

In Cantonese, with Chinese and English subtitles

50-year-old Tai-hung appears to share a contented life with his wife Anne. But his humdrum life is turned upside down when he receives a phone call from Bond, who tells him that he is married to Tai-hung’s old classmate Ching, who has recently passed away. The news triggers Tai-hung’s memories and awakens his deep feelings for Ching long buried in his heart.

April 17 | 6:30 PM | Symphony Space | Q&A with Special Guest

p2518153822The Taste of Rice Flowers

SONG Pengfei | China | 2017 | 95 minutes | DCP | East Coast Premiere

In Mandarin and Dai dialect, with Chinese and English subtitles

Ye Nan, a mother belonging to the Dai minority, comes back to her village after living in the city. She wants to take care of the 13-year-old daughter she had left behind, but the road to reestablishing their relationship is full of obstacles. One day her daughter is arrested for stealing money from the village’s most sacred temple with her friend. Since people think the girls are possessed by the devil, they decide to save them by worshipping a stone Buddha in a 250-million-year-old karst cave during the Water-Sprinkling Festival.

April 12 | 8:30 PM | Symphony Space | Skype Q&A with director Song Pengfei

Special Presentation

p2503150770Mr. No Problem

MEI Feng | China | 2016 | 143 minutes | Digital

In Mandarin, with Chinese and English subtitles

On the home-front during WWII, conflicting interests at Shuhua Farm in Chongqing are adroitly handled by its director Ding Wuyuan. The farm is highly productive yet fails to earn a profit. Fortunately, the shareholders, appeased by Ding’s largess, do not hold against him. To bring in extra income, Ding Wuyuan rents a room to a self-professed artist named Qin Miaozhai, eventually incurring the authorities’ suspicion that the farm is harboring an enemy sympathizer. The shareholders decide to hire an incorruptible new director, You Daxing, though opposed by the faux-artist Qin. Under Qin’s urging, workers shower Director You’s wife with small bribes, whereupon Qin exposes the new director for embezzlement. Although Qin manages to drive away the new director, he himself is soon hauled off by military police. This course of events fits the aims of Ding Wuyuan, who finally returns to his position as farm director. As before the farm operates at a loss, under a facade of having no problem.

April 8 | 5:00 PM | Symphony Space

p2516300806Bangzi Melody

ZHENG Dasheng | China | 2017 | 100 minutes | DCP | U.S Premiere

In Chinese regional dialect, with English and Chinese subtitles

In the 1980s, with the end of the Cultural Revolution, China has begun a vast land reform in its rural area to launch the so-called household-responsibility system, which aims at ending the egalitarian distribution method performed in Maoist China. Shot in black and white with great humanistic spirit, Bangzi Melody recounts the Chinese land reform full of personal sufferings, political gambling and historical ambiguities.

April 14 | 4:15 PM | SVA Theatre


YANG Li-chou | Taiwan | 2017 | 99 minutes | DCP | East Coast Premiere

In Taiwanese and Mandarin, with Chinese and English subtitles

Chen Hsi-huang is the eldest son of Li Tien-lu, the renowned Taiwanese glove puppeteer, but the father-son relationship had always been strained. In 2009, at the age of 79, Chen left the Li family and set up his own puppeteer troupe, which soon earned recognition all over the world. Nevertheless, as this traditional art declined rapidly, Chen found no one to pass on his great skills…

April 14 | 6:30 PM | SVA Theatre | Q&A with director Yang Li-chou

p2523611845The Troubleshooters

MI Jiashan | China | 1988 | 101 minutes | Digital

In Mandarin, with English subtitles

Three young men established the 3-T company to “relieve worries,” “solve problems,” and “endure punishments” for their clients. Their business leads to a series of comedic encounters.

April 17 | 4:30 PM | Symphony Space

p2510219642The Widowed Witch

CAI Chengjie | China | 2017 | 120 minutes | DCP | New York Premiere

In Mandarin, with English subtitles

Deemed ominous by the local villagers, three-time widow Er Hao has her hands full with a rogue fireworks explosion, a tagalong teenager, and a veritable army of crazed local men who can’t keep their hands off her. Turned away when she seeks shelter from her neighbors and forced to take up residence in a cold camper van, Er Hao’s future looks as bleak as the stark, snowy countryside. But a series of fluke changes in fortune causes Er Hao to embrace the mystical identity her villagers have assigned her. As a sort of modern

shaman, she steers superstitions into small subversions, helping others who once shunned her and proving that to survive as a woman is a kind of magic. Abused and shunned, Er Hao gains power over the men who have wronged her — but can she find a place in a misogynist, patriarchal and deeply lonely social structure?

April 10 | 8:00 PM | Symphony Space