A 17th-century folk tale about four thieves trying to survive in a corrupt world during the Song Dynasty (10th-13th century) is the unusual source material for this blinding debut. The timeless sources that director Ma Lanhua mines also comprise French comedy, Chinese opera and contemporary (performance) art. Ma also utilises cinema's history, particularly the early, silent era with title cards, colours reminiscent of hand-coloured films and special effects from the arsenal of film pioneer Georges Meliès.

The carefree crew's villainy is shot with mainly static framing and a background of scenery conjured up with simple, creative means at desolate building sites, factories and shunting yards. An apocalyptic no man's land aligned with this total performance's punk energy, where the trivial story serves as a vehicle for a playful, original form of cinema combining art forms, eras and cultures into a captivating visual experience.

Original title
Song Si Gong da nao jin hun Zhang
Filmmaker
Ma Lanhua
Premiere
International premiere
Country
China
Year
2019
Medium
DCP
Length
50’
Language
no dialogue
Producer
Ma Lanhua
Sales
Ma Lanhua
Writer
Fa Ming, Ma Yixiang
Cinematography
Yi Jingkai
Editor
Li Yun, Yi Jingkai
Music
Li Xingyu
Cast
Tom Friedenbach, Fa Ming, Ma Yixiang, He Tongbin, Zhang Zhanfei, Zhang Zhidong, Lu Dong