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GreenCine Movie Talk
From Albania to Zaire, there's a whole world out there.

Li Shaohong Goes `Global'
Topic by: JGereben
Posted: August 8, 2006 - 11:58 PM PDT
Last Reply: August 9, 2006 - 1:24 PM PDT

author topic: Li Shaohong Goes `Global'
post #1  on August 8, 2006 - 11:58 PM PDT  
Chances are Global Lens is not all that well known among moviegoers; I, for one, with many years of festival experience, never heard of it. Based on what I saw tonight, however, here is a prediction to take to the bank: fame (and perhaps even fortune) is just around the corner for this gutsy, effective venture, and its parent organization, The Global Film Initiative.

At tonight's Dolby Laboratories press conference, announcing the third annual Global Lens Film Series (thank you for not calling it a festival!), Susan Coulter, head of the organization, made a convincing case about supporting talented third-world artists by acquiring their works, "overlooked by commercial film distributors in the U.S.," for widespread presentation.

Coulter and the Global Lens' agenda sounded impressive, but to modify Hamlet slightly, "Words without deeds never to heaven go." Proof of Global Lens' bonafides, happily, followed closely on the presentation, with the preview screening of Li Shaohong's "Stolen Life" ("Sheng si jie").

This brilliant work has been shown only at three festivals outside China (Tribeca, Bangkok, and Wisconsin), but now, thanks to Global Lens, "Stolen Light" will be part of the series at the San Francisco Art Institute (Sept. 6 - Oct. 4), Oakland's Grand Lake Theater (Sept. 8-20), San Jose's Mexican Heritage Plaza (Sept. 10-22), and the Smith Rafael Film Center in Marin (Sept. 21 - Oct. 4).

Better than any "mission statement," the upcoming screening schedule speaks highly of Global Lens: besides "Stolen Light," it offers Tawfik Abu Wael's "Thirst" (made in Israel and Palestine); South African Teddy Mattera's "Max and Mona" (in English, Afrikaans, Zulu, and Tswana); Fanta Régina Nacro's "The Night of Truth," from Burkina Faso; Brazilian Marcelo Gomes' "Cinema, Aspirins and Vultures" and, also from Brazil, Lucia Murat's "Almost Brothers"; Danielle Arbid's "In the Battlefields," from Lebanon (the battle of 1983, not of today); and Iranian Kambozia Partovi's "Border Café."

"Stolen Life" is a simple, deeply involving drama of everyday life from contemporary China, somewhat in the fashion of "The Road Home," but darker, more melodramatic, more painful. Instead of Zhang Ziyi (whose career took off with that film by Zhang Yimou), the constant focus in "Stolen Life" is on Xun Zhou, whose adolescent appearance at the beginning of the story makes the viewer acclaim a sensational newcomer... until she "grows up" before your eyes, and then you recognize her. Wonderful in "Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress" ("Xiao cai feng"), glamorized and wasted in "Perhaps Love" ("Ru guo Ai"), she is an extraordinary young actress, with a thousand faces.

Li Shaohong's direction (with Liao Yimei's sparse, believable script) is masterful. Except for one misstep, of virtually giving away the story early on, her discipline in story-telling, keeping up interest - or even suspense - and not settling for easy ways out is admirable.

"Stolen Life" spans the contemporary urban scene from a Dickensien childhood through the upstairs/downstairs world of luxury shopping centers and underground hovels. Through it all, the camera follows closely the young heroine through her confusion, loneliness, giving everything up for the love of the first man she encounters, and her descent into deepest tragedy.

In a complex, convincing finale, she finally stands up for herself, but the enormous hurt she had to endure persists - for her, for the audience - to the very end. This is an important, memorable film, kudos to Global Lens for rescuing it from being "overlooked by commercial distributors."
Janos Gereben
post #2  on August 9, 2006 - 1:14 AM PDT  
Oops! Forgot dear old Balboa Theater, also part of the series:, Sept. 9-18.
post #3  on August 9, 2006 - 1:24 PM PDT  
> On August 8, 2006 - 11:58 PM PDT JGereben wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> Susan Coulter, head of the organization, made a convincing case about supporting talented third-world artists by acquiring their works, "overlooked by commercial film distributors in the U.S.," for widespread presentation.

Quote from "Digital Cinema - Rise Against the Reel":

"With traditional film, distributors need to strategise where they send their movie prints to. Given the high costs [of $3,000-4,000 per print], they risk making a loss if the cost of duplicating film prints far outweighs cinema earnings. Digital cinema's low distribution costs on the other hand, allow movies to be sent via broadband cables or transmitted via satellite."

Think we'll see more foreign and independent movies here in the U.S. once digital theaters become more widespread?

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