The Vancouver International Film Festival began on September 27 but it officially began for me yesterday; October 2nd at 7 P.M. with my first film YUMEN. I am safely and soundly moved into my new downtown apartment which is fabulous and cozy and perfectly located for taking in the festival festivities. Unfortunately this whole moving thing prevented me from posting for this film yesterday. It is just as well since Yumen may be my least favourite film festival offering of all the years I have been attending. This was a truly dull and forgettable film that despite being a mere 65 minutes felt more like 3 hours. Tonight’s film should be considerably more entertaining. In any case it certainly could not be worse.

Today’s Vancouver International Film Festival pick is A Touch of Sin at Centre for Performing Arts at 6:30 pm.


Director Jia Zhangke has 19 credits of which I have seen zero. The trailer for A Touch of Sin is very appealing and the plot summary is intriguing. The film stars Zhao Tao, Jiang Wu, Wang Baoqiang, Zhang Jiayi, Luo Lanshan and Li Meng.

VIFF Online Description:

Chinese master Jia Zhangke makes a bold play for greater accessibility and up-to-the-minute social relevance with his brilliant new film, a Cannes Film Festival prizewinner (for best screenplay) this year.

The film is made up of four interconnected stories. Gruff, powerful Jiang Wu plays Dahai, a coalminer in Shanxi who discovers his corrupt village chief is in cahoots with a rich mining mogul to swindle the villagers’ money. A snarling tiger banner and an antique shotgun play important roles as Dahai’s simmering anger turns to bloody revenge. Chinese comedy star Wang Baoqiang (ruthlessly competent, rather than comical, here) visits his home village near Chongqing to care for his family. Jia’s regular muse (and wife) Zhao Tao plays a martial-arts heroine, a switchblade-wielding receptionist whom local goons unfortunately mistake for a prostitute. Finally, Luo Lanshan and Li Meng are a worker and prostitute in the industrialized south; seeking romance, Luo feels the despair of expendable unskilled workers.

Jia has never made anything quite like this, with its references to classic and modern Hong Kong action cinema and its dark vision of a violent society pushed over the edge into frightening bloodshed. Jia sacrifices none of his formal control or his artfulness, though, in this thrillingly shot drama of China today, ripped fresh from the headlines.

— Shelly Kraicer

2 Responses to “VIFF: Day ONE & TWO”

  1. A TOUCH OF SIN got a lot of play on NPR…although most critics seemed more surprised that it got so much past China’s censors than impressed by its merits. Sounds like my cup of tea, though.

    • A Touch of Sin was very decent, but it didn’t move me much personally. To be honest the film fest experience has been a bit unsatisfying this year. I’ve enjoyed the films I have seen when I got home more. Been watching a lot of Fassbinder and Doris Wishman lately.

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