Jia Zhangke is one of the most critically acclaimed filmmakers working in China today. He is generally regarded as a leading figure of the “Sixth Generation” movement of Chinese cinema, a group that also includes such figures as Wang Xiaoshuai, Lou Ye, Wang Quan’an and Zhang Yuan.
The writer-director of modern classics such as Platform (2000) and Still Life (2006) has never been known for his blockbusting potential in the domestic box office. But Jia struck a new obstacle when his 2013 film, A Touch of Sin, was arbitrarily denied a release at home despite winning the best screenplay award at the Cannes Film Festival.
Those who strictly follow professional principles and exhaustively describe the marketing ability they possess have long lost their power of thought. They pay too much attention to wheter the film is good enough to reflect their professional competencies. For example, the picture should be as delicate as an oil-painting, or the mise-en-scené is supposed to match that of Antonioni’s films; even the twinkling spotlight needs to be right on the face of the actor. They repeatedly fathom the professional mindset, cautioning themselves against any amateur act that breaks the established classic rules. Conscience and sincerity, which are crucial to filmmaking, are completely diluted by these facts.
[on making A Touch of Sin (2013) and the state of China] I slowly began to see the problem of individual violence in society. There are many tragedies or societal problems in which people in the end rebel, resulting in a very big tragedy. So I began to pay more and more attention to this problem, because, frankly speaking, I feel like Chinese people do not really understand the problem of violence because society has never had a widespread discussion of the problem.
Revolution is the cruelest of recollections for the Chinese people. The destructive effects of the previous revolution are still deeply felt. It wasn’t that long ago that people were violent to each other in the name of communism. Now it’s in the pursuit of capitalism