A New Old Play: 椒麻堂会

From The dGenerate Films Collection

Directed by QIU Jiongjiong

180 minutes / Color
Mandarin / English subtitles
Release: 2022
Copyright: 2021

QIU Jiongjiong’s visually magnificent new film is a unique hybrid of fiction, historical reminiscence, and experimental theatre. Its overview of China from the 1930s to the 1980s is filtered through Qiu Yu, a Sichuan opera 'clown' based on the director’s own famous grandfather. As Qiu Yu negotiates his entry into Hades with two comic sidekicks, his departing soul reviews his childhood, his performances, family tragedies, and political perils.

This film of unparalleled aesthetic and political courage takes place in modestly spectacular visual settings: Qiu, a famous artist, has handcrafted an exquisite miniature model village, a fantastical river landscape, a golden sun in the shape of a Buddha’s head. These images set the scene for a constantly shifting acting style that embraces absurdism, political melodrama, comic vaudeville, and ritual tableaux. We are offered memory as a re-lived collective experience, insistently comic in its mode, but expansively humane in its vision. —IFFR

“Critic’s Pick! A magnificently layered historical epic... breathes new life into a story as old as civilization.” —Austin Considine, The New York Times

“Director Qiu creates a huge epochal fresco and revives the ancient Sichuan Opera tradition with the magic touch of a modern-day Méliès.” —Maria Giovanna Vagenas, Senses of Cinema

“Daring and imaginative, with affecting intimacy and candid observations.” —Richard Brody, The New Yorker

“An epic and fantastical depiction of five decades of Chinese history.” —Richard Whittaker, The Austin Chronicle

“The brightest light in the Chinese independent cinema world at this moment.” —Cinema Scope

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A film by QIU Jiongjiong

Select Accolades

  • Special Jury Prize, Locarno Film Festival 2021
  • Special Jury Mention, Golden Apricot Yerevan International Film Festival 2021
  • Young Jury Prize, Festival des 3 Continents 2021
  • Asian Pacific Screen Award 2021
  • International Film Festival Rotterdam 2022
  • First Look, Museum of the Moving Image 2022


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