CINECINA Online Film Festival

Director: Congcong Teng
Country: China | Running Time: 99 min

Diagnosed with ovarian cancer, iron-willed journalist Sheng Nan (“Surpass Men” in Chinese) is pressured to make a quick fortune and find mind-blowing sex before the costly surgery numbs her senses. Taking on a businessman’s biography writing job, she hikes into the misty mountains, where a chain of outbursts with her dysfunctional family, grumpy client, misogynistic co-worker and dreamlike romantic interest hilariously unfold. As deeply moving as it is luminously witty, writer-director Teng Congcong’s debut waltzes across the bitterness swallowed by her generation of women born under China’s One Child Policy, unprecedentedly burdened to “surpass men” while trying not to be “leftover women” at the same time. Saluting the 18th-century Chinese literature classic Dream of the Red Chamber in its title, the enchanting gem refreshes the novel’s transcendent contemplation on desire, death and womanhood from a modern cinematic perspective.

Director: Jiangjiang Jin
Country: China | Running Time: 99 min

This documentary is about the life of two Lisu brothers who live on the Biluo mountain where Nujiang River passes. The elder brother, Cilihua, is 17 years old and the younger one, Jialihua is 10. Their father died when the younger brother was only six months. Their mother remarried and settled at the foot of the mountain, leaving the boys to her mother and brother. There is no school on the mountain and the kids spend their time shouldering the family chores. Even with the misfortune and hardship, simple happiness is never far from their life.

Director: Yue Ting
Country: China | Running Time: 89 min

“Red-Hair Emperor”, Gu Donglin, the man who had been married twice in Zhengzhou, China. He alone raised the daughter who was in junior high school. When he was young, he loved disco. Nowadays, whenever he feels bored, he will go to the park and dance with the sound of other people’s music. In 2017, a wave of Internet broadcasts emerged. The image of his frenetic dance with friends was pushed to the public. Since then, “awkward dance” has completely changed his life.

Directors: Xiao Xiao, Lin Lin
Country: China | Running Time: 101 min

TURTLE ROCK evolves around the daily life of three generations in a tiny mountain village. 80-years-old grandma still labors hard for the family. She burns incense and prays day by day for the fear of upcoming death, and asks her son to come back for company. After her son returns from outside work, he can only do odd jobs in the woods and becomes increasingly impoverished and anxious. Her grandson, tired of being migrant worker in city, back to the mountains and starts his business of raising chickens, but ends up with a complete defeat and being heavily indebted. Meanwhile, her neighbor uncle Li unwillingly comes back home for his eye being injured in industrial job, and suddenly loses all source of income… The piling mountains tightly binds them together and enfetters their fates, just as the giant “Turtle Rock” situated at the gate of the village – it is said that a turtle endeavored to cultivate itself into the heavenly realm, but fell down and being dismembered by the Thunder God, and then transferred into a rock – the village is named after the rock, and also echoes from this heritage.

Director: Xiangqi Chen
Country: China | Running Time: 90 min

SHANGHAI QUEER is a first-of-its-kind documentary film about LGBTQ’s pursuit of equality and freedom in Shanghai, China. The documentary tells the collective memories of the development of Shanghai’s LGBTQ community over the past 15 years (2003-2018), presenting and focusing on the mission, growth and thoughts of NGOs, activists, scholars and artists in the gender equality movement under the change of urban spaces. Through oral interviews with activists and tours around local queer spaces, the documentary discusses China’s LGBTQ-related issues and depicts a picture of local activism fighting for the minority’s equality.

Director: Peng Fei Song
Country: China | Running Time: 104 min

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’d left behind, but the road to rebuilding 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, thinking the girls are possessed by the devil, decide to save them by worshipping a stone Buddha in a 250-million-year-old karst cave during the Water-Sprinkling Festival.

Director: Zhou Lidong
Country: China | Running Time: 108 min

Local business owner Old Lin finds himself in dire straits; the time has come for him to collect on his debts, or face serious trouble. Juggling responsibilities as a husband and father, as well as simply a man, Old Lin comes to realize there’s a lot more to figure out in his mid-forties.

Two short films by Richard Yaochi Chen

Director: Richard Yao-chi Chen
Country: China | Running Time:19 min

The director follows three art college students Huang Yong-song, Mou Tun-fei, and Huang Gui-rong as they enjoy an excursion into the mountains. As the song “California Dreamin'” plays, the three talk about their artistic ideals, how only KMT party members were eligible for scholarships, and their view on the Vietnam War.

Director: Richard Yao-chi Chen
Country: China | Running Time: 11 min

It is said that when America began its westward territorial expansion, every mile of train track laid down cost the life of a Chinese migrant worker. Mixing fiction with documentary, the film shows trains racing past ramshackle forts and barren deserts as a waltz plays on, with the desolate scenery contrasting with the tourists’ smiling faces.

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