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Director: Jia Zhangke

Screenwriter: Jia Zhangke

Producer: Shôzô Ichiyama, Nathanaël Karmitz

Editor: Matthieu Laclau

Cast: Tao Zhao, Fan Liao, Yi'nan Diao, Xiaogang Feng

Cinamatographer: Eric Gautier

Music: Giong Lim

 

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Ash Is Purest White

Jiang hu er nü

 

Madison Premiere • narrative • China, France, Japan • 2018 • DCP • Mandarin with English subtitles • 137 MIN

section: New International Cinema

Toying with genre to thrilling and affecting ends, Jia Zhangke refines long-standing concerns about modern China in this elegant, years-spanning gangster melodrama. It begins in 2001 in Shanxi Province, immersed in the jianghu underworld of smoky mahjong parlors. Triad leader Bin (Liao Fan) can order around his loyal enforcers but not his fierce, self-assured girlfriend Qiao (Zhao Tao), who knows her way with a gun and loves dancing to "YMCA." Gangland tensions boil over in one knockout, bloody melee sequence, which Qiao puts an end to when she grabs her gun. Her choice reverberates over the following two decades, as Bin, Qiao, and mainland China’s fortunes shift and the drama’s innate emotional weight takes hold. A culmination of sorts for Jia, Ash Is Purest White also marks a peak for his wife Zhao, who follows towering work in A Touch of Sin (2013) and Mountains May Depart (2015) with her "richest, most subtly complex performance...to date" (Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times). (ZZ)
 

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