‘Odyssey: a Chinese cinema season’ is launching in the UK this May. Collaborating with Picturehouse Cinemas , The Prince Charles Cinemas (in – person) and Shift 72 (online), the festival will create a hybrid experience to reach as many attendees as possible across the UK and worldwide.
Named after one of the most significant works of the Western canon, ‘Odyssey’ aims to offer an exciting and mysterious journey through the contemporary Sino–cinematic world. Odyssey strives to empower the shared appreciation of cinema, drive inclusiveness in the film industry, and facilitate cross-cultural communication. The festival will not only introduce the latest young Chinese film talents to the UK audience, but also host panels with industry experts, scholars, and filmmakers to boost creativity and exchange ideas.
The curation of Odyssey revolves around diverse themes and genres. The screenings range from short films and features to new moving images by contemporary Chinese artists. Demonstrating a pioneering and artistic spirit, short film programmes like ‘Shanghai Animation Film Studio Retro’ attempt to break the boundaries between narrative and aesthetics and reimagine cinematography and visual art dimensions.
In the feature film section, topics like ‘Women Through Lens’ and ‘Chinese Regional Cinema’ showcase the dynamics of Chinese society, culture, and aesthetics. All screenings will include a series of Q&As prepared by the curation team and special guests including filmmakers, academics, curators, and critics.
Industry-focused panels were the festival’s highlight last year, which have attracted over 500 participants. Now in its second year, rebranded, Odyssey has prepared another 10 new industry topics. From global sustainability to new business models, from co-production to distribution, from regional cinemas to female film programmers, all subjects are the leading visions and will help explore film – related collaborations between the UK and Greater China.
The opening film screening event will be hosted in person by the Picturehouse Cinemas in London and Edinburgh on 10th May with a reception. The festival programme will bring about a whole month of Chinese cinema from 10th May to 10th June 2022, with more than 60 films in 8 curated sections, 10 panel discussions, and Q&A sessions.
Outstanding, innovative, and inspiring, these films promise to add some sparkle to 2022. Most of the programme will be available online for all audiences across the country, and several pop-up special cinema screenings will come up throughout the festival. The online festival platform of Odyssey will be powered by Shift 72, a leading streaming technology that has been used by renowned international festivals such as Cannes and Toronto.
FESTIVAL FILM PROGRAMME OVERVIEW
Opening Film (Offline Screening)
Hard Love (2021)
The opening film Hard Love centres on the wave of single girls. It discusses social hotspots like love, marriage, family, work, and childbirth, which today’s youth are most concerned about. Spanning eight cities, including Shanghai, Beijing, Xi’an, San Francisco, and Phu Quoc Island, this documentary offers a group portrait of Chinese single women within a delicately-designed 97 minutes. Modern single women are also a heated topic for young people in the UK. Based on this mutual concern, this opening film shall go beyond the national boundary and bring audiences together.
River of Salvation (2020)
FIRST’s favourite, River of Salvation, unfolds a down-to-earth portrait of life in a small town in southern China. With a meticulous narrative structure and its ‘last six minutes reversal,’ the script draws enormous emotional power from the deeply buried history of millions of ordinary women and their everyday struggles.
Date and Time: 17 May 2022 | Tuesday 19:30 pm BST
Location: Pictureshouse Finsbury Park, Unit 1 Cinema LS, 17 City N Pl, London N4 3FU
Short Films (Online Screening)
The festival has curated this screening and award category called “Neo Horizon: The Audience Award”. Our audience will have the opportunity to review and select films which will be nominated for this award. The curation team of Odyssey have selected six outstanding short films from all 123 submissions for this award. These refreshing and reflective films explore a vast range of critical issues facing our society today, and transport viewers explore the unique relationship between place, city and an individual in a mysterious cinematic world.
This section consists of 29 award winning short films, highlights the different genres, themes, and aesthetics of 21st-century Chinese cinema, ranging from atmospheric shorts to incisive documentaries. This section begins with a slice of contemporary Chinese sci-fi before delving into musical productions, inventive animations, and comedy-dramas about cross-cultural misunderstandings. The section features a schoolgirl with a genius IQ, a drummer who finds inspiration in an ancient bathhouse, and a hard of hearing boy desperate to pursue his dancing dreams. The directors deftly tackle serious social issues, including sex trafficking and the SARSoutbreak, alongside subtle character studies.
The Galaxy: Artists’ Moving Image
This is a must-watch experimental film programme spotlighting innovations in the moving image. Breaking the boundaries between film text and art creation, these films roam in their own artistic galaxy – and are all at the cutting edge of Chinese experimental cinema. The abstract concepts that drive “The Galaxy” are no less exciting, as the creators channel questions of cognition and perception through images of war, blindness, and light itself. These selected moving images represent the thrilling point at which film and visual art meet, creating a ground-breaking medium for authorial expression.
Shanghai Animation Film Studio Retro
This retrospective programme is in its second edition, supported by Shanghai Animation Film Studio. This section will be screened online from the 20th to the 26th of May. By looking back at classic Chinese animations such as Little Carp Jumps Over the Dragon Gate and The Little Stream from the 1960s, Nine-Colored Deer and The Deer’s Bell from the 1980s now in 2K restoration, this section offers UK audiences the opportunity to enjoy animated films of different eras and art styles while learning about the history of Chinese animation.
Feature Films (Online Screening)
The Emerging Waves
This section pays special attention to the new generation’s independent, arthouse, and documentary productions. From the 12th of May to the 19th of May, six innovative and inspiring films will be shown in this section in offline and online formats. Lan Yu (4K Restoration) which is one of the best gay films that China has ever produced, will be shown on the 12th of May at The Princes Charles Cinema. Another award-winning title River of Salvation will be screening on the 17th of May at Finsbury Park Picturehouse. Apart from these special offline screenings, four additional films will be shown online via Shift 72 from the 13th of May.
Being Mortal reproduces the bitterness of life by depicting an Alzheimer’s patient’s family. The Fourth Wall creatively uses the parallel universe as a narrative technique to discuss how to reconcile with family, society, and ourselves. Black Tide Coast follows a poetic style, aiming to depict abstract emotions, ideas, and feelings beyond the control of the images. The Ark utilises documentary images to record the complicated relationship between individuals and society, science and religion.
Women Through Lens
This section focuses on women’s life experiences, which will be screened online from the 27th of May to the 2nd of June. This section currently consists of seven films, Wind exposes the plight of single mothers and daughters from ethnic minorities in a patriarchal society; Love Conquers All shows an ambivalent intimate relationship that can conquer as well destroy everything; Spring Tide portrays a mother-daughter relationship of two generations in which both warmth and confrontation are intertwined; One Summer through the eyes of the protagonist to reflect many social issues arising in China today, including marriage, education, urban development and the political system; and finally, Chang’E draws on the classical Chinese myth of “Chang’e running to the moon” to create an ironic and compassionate mirror metaphor between the unearthly fairy and the exhausted 55-year-old factory worker.
Only You Alone takes us on a journey through the struggles of a young girl with epilepsy trying to realize her dream of dancing. We are also honoured to have Xie Fei’s Girl from Hunan with us, which is a pioneering work from the 1980s that reflects on and criticises the tragic situation of women trapped in feudal traditional marriage. (The last two films are newly confirmed so haven not been added to the following film list pictures.)
Chinese Regional Cinema
This section explores the diversity of Chinese regional cultures. From the 3rd of June to the 9th of June, by showing four carefully chosen films, this programme looks beyond Beijing and Shanghai to feature a diverse range of China’s regional filmmakers, breaking the supercity dominated stereotypes of Chinese cinema.
Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains and Drifted in Life calmly display ordinary families’ incidents within the development of city and society in Southeast China. Wisdom Tooth reveals the story of a brother and a sister, situating an ambiguous, romantic, and heartbreaking relationship in the snowy Northeast region of China. Great Happiness takes viewers to the Northwest of China to experience both happiness and challenges three young adults need to face in the fast-developing city.
A feature-length animated film The Legend of Sealed Book (4K Restoration) has been selected to be screened in our “Surprise Film” section, which will be released on the 1st of June online as a celebration and special tribute to the International Children’s Day at Odyssey.
Our coverage of the season will start from tomorrow on what is sure to be an exception month!
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