The Honor Among Thieves

Ma Lanhua

IFFR 2020

  • 50'
  • China
  • 2019

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.

Director
Ma Lanhua
Premiere
International premiere
Country of production
China
Production Year
2019
Festival Edition
IFFR 2020
Length
50'
Medium
DCP
Original title
Song Si Gong da nao jin hun Zhang
Language
no dialogue
Producer
Ma Lanhua
Sales
Ma Lanhua
Screenplay
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