Volume 12, Issue 7 / July 2008

East Asian Auteurs

Fortuitously timed with the Beijing Summer Olympics, for this mid summer issue Offscreen places a partial focus on three Chinese directors, two with reputable track records and a third who has recently completed his first feature film. Wong Kar-Wai and Jia Zhangke are two of the most established Chinese directors when it comes to international recognition. While the majority of Kar-Wai’s work has come out of Hong Kong (though he was born in Shanghai), Zhangke has worked out of mainland China. My Blueberry Nights marks Wai-Kar’s first US film, but he has been shooting films abroad for many years. Happy Together was filmed in Buenos Aires, Argentina; the BMW sponsored short film The Hire was filmed in the US; 2046 was filmed in Germany; and even parts of In the Mood For Love saw him leave Hong Kong for Singapore and Cambodia. By contrast the majority of Zhangke’s films have been filmed in mainland China. The issue opens with a review of My Blueberry Nights and is followed by Edwin Mak’s theoretical analysis of the aesthetic and ideological configurations of Zhangke’s two major works, Platform (2000) and Unknown Pleasures (2002). At the other end of his filmmaking career is Zhuang Yuxin, Associate Professor in the Literature Department of the Beijing film Academy, whose debut feature film dealing with the controversial topic of abortion (among other things), Ai qing de ya chi (Teeth of Love), played at the 2007 World Film Festival in Montreal. Offscreen regular Peter Rist serves up an in-depth interview with the director. The fourth and final essay focusing on East Asian auteurs features the Republic of Korea’s Park Chan-wook’s Oldboy. Writer Hwanhee Lee tries to untangle the bizarre moral complexities of a violent thriller which is all too often simplified as an entry in Chan-wook’s “Vengeance Trilogy” (along with Synmpathy for Mr. Vengeance and Sympathy for Lady Vengeance). Concluding the issue is Daniel Garrett’s nuanced analysis of the myriad of social and human elements that are touched upon in Eric Guirado’s French film The Grocer’s Son. (ed. Donato Totaro)

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