JIA ZHANGKE RETROSPECTIVE AT MoMA PRESENTS CONTEMPORARY FILMS THAT REFLECT THE ENORMOUS CHANGES TAKING PLACE IN CHINESE SOCIETY

. February 7, 2010

Internationally Celebrated Filmmaker Takes on Complex Subject Matter Using a Combination of Gritty Realism, Elegant Camerawork, and Unique Artistic Vision

NEW YORK, – Jia Zhangke: A Retrospective is the first complete U.S. retrospective of this internationally celebrated contemporary filmmaker who, in little more than a decade, has become one of cinema‘s most critically acclaimed artists and the leading figure of the sixth generation of Chinese filmmakers. The exhibition screens in The Roy and Niuta Titus Theaters from March 5 through 20, 2010, and includes Jia Zhangke‘s (Chinese, b. 1970) entire oeuvre: eight features and six shorts, dating from 1995 to 2008. The retrospective is organized by Jytte Jensen, Curator, Department of Film, The Museum of Modern Art.

Jia Zhangke
Shijie (The World). 2004. Directed by Jia Zhangke. China/Japan/France. Pictured: Zhao Tao

The director will be at MoMA with Zhao Tao—his leading actress since her debut in Zhantai (Platform) (2000)—to introduce most of his films at screenings between the opening night film on Friday, March 5, at 7:00 p.m. of Shijie (The World) (2004), through the screening on Monday, March 8 at 4:00 p.m. of Black Breakfast (2008) and Sanxia haoren (Still Life) (2006). Jia will also participate in a special Modern Mondays event at MoMA on the evening of March 8 at 7:00 p.m., where he will discuss his recent films and present two shorts and a sneak preview of a segment of his upcoming feature, Shanghai Chuan Qi (I Wish I Knew, 2010), followed by a discussion.

Merging a gritty realist style with elegant camera movements and postmodern flourishes, Jia tackles contemporary subject matter in both documentary and fiction projects, often fusing the two approaches to great effect. He has created a body of work that reflects on the enormous physical and interpersonal changes in Chinese society over the past 50 years. Jia Zhangke‘s films resonate with both domestic and international audiences due to his original combination of a sophisticated aesthetic with plainspoken integrity.

The films illuminate the transformations taking place in China‘s environment, architecture, and society, by placing everyday people in the midst of a landscape in turmoil. Aiming to restore the concrete memory of place and to evoke individual history in a rapidly modernizing society, the filmmaker recovers the immediate past in order to imagine the future. His films reflect reality truthfully, while simultaneously using fantasy and a distinct artistic vision to pose existential questions about life and status in a society in flux. Through rigorous specificity, his art attains universal scope and appeal.

An inspiration to fellow filmmakers, Jia has devised an original, ever-evolving, contemporary filmmaking style with a porous, symbiotic relationship between the real and the imagined. His works are cast with amateurs as well as professional actors, and he uses fluid camera movements to deconstruct space, adapt its movements, and position its subject matter. These are prominent aspects of all the director‘s films, and are essential to his storytelling technique and to the remarkable texture of his films.

Jia Zhangke‘s beautifully calibrated 2008 dramatic short Heshang aiquing (Cry Me a River), pays homage to an earlier film from the Golden Era of Chinese filmmaking, the 1948 Chinese classic Xiao Cheng Zhi Chun (Spring in a Small Town), directed by Fei Mu, which also screens at MoMA as part of this retrospective.

The retrospective is made possible with the support of Xstream Pictures (Eva Lam, Project Manager); The Sarajevo Film Festival (Howard Feinstein, Programmer); and Tzu-Wen Cheng. Prints Courtesy of Zeitgeist Films; New Yorker Films; Cinema Guild; Memento/Artscope; China Fiilm Archive; Art for the World; Xstream; Celluloid Dreams; and Sidus Pictures.

The Museum of Modern Art, 11 West 53rd Street, New York, NY 10019

The public may call (212) 708-9400 for detailed Museum information. Visit www.moma.org

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