Xiaogang Feng: Ji jie hao. 2007 (China)

Feng Xiaogang‘s ‘Ji jie hao‘ is set around the mid 20th century, during the dying years of the long drawn civil war in China fought between the forces loyal to the Communist Party of China and the Kuomintang. To Feng’s credit the film does not follow a straightforward triumphalist narrative about Communist war heroes, but instead builds a complex tale of an individual (Captain Guzidi, played remarkably by Zhang Hanyu) who struggles for the posthumous recognition of the men in his company who laid down their lives on the battlefront. These were soldiers who were terrified and sometimes balked at the clear and present dangers before them – as would anyone – but they made the ultimate sacrifice and, as the only survivor from his company, Captain Guzidi strives long and hard to have their efforts recognized as a unique contribution to the war effort. Like great combat films, ‘Ji jie hao’ ceases to be war porn, and rises above to make a stellar comment on the inhumanity of all wars, and the immorality of taking away lives, in the guise of war. It is also a severe indictment of post-war society and government in China. Watch.

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Maleonn Ma: Theatricus Surrealis

Shanghai, China native, and graphic design major from the Fine Arts College of Shanghai University, Maleonn Ma conjures up evocative still images weaving in a complex tapestry of memories soaked in surreal flakes. Measured, yet pushing on an unseen edginess, and bordering on imploding on the self, Maleonn’s work has theatrical roots, and often requires some form of stagecraft or the other – not excluding the usage of actors, costumes, props, decor, mood light and so on. This, one attributes to his family background in the Beijing Opera and the traditional performing arts, and his proximity to theater and the visual arts. Unfazed by titles, genres and typification of various kinds, Maleonn responds intuitively to his artistic journey, taking on projects of varying challenges and complexity, at times with a dash of humor. Take a look.

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