September 11, 2006


Jia Zhangke wins the Golden LionJia Zhangke's last-minute addition to the Venice Film Festival, STILL LIFE, won the festival's Golden Lion but it has received extremely negative reviews from Variety and Screendaily.

Derek Elley at Variety says it "...has almost zero plot but molto mood. It will appeal to the most faithful of the director's camp-followers and no one else."

Dan Fainaru at ScreenDaily says it "...will not gain much of an audience beyond festivals or very specialised programming."

So how'd it win?

(Thanks to the sharp-eyed reader who sent this in)

September 11, 2006 at 09:59 AM in News | Permalink


I suppose it was a rethoric question, but I dare answer... It’s just a wild guess, because I haven’t seen the movie.
Summer Palace had some issues as you know, so I dare say, that the jury wanted to ‘stick it to the man’.

As far as festivals are concerned, there are two topics the program directors like: ‘underground, banned in China’ and ‘costume kung fu’; that’s why I suppose Feng Xiaogang never made it to Western festivals in previous years. He was just... well normal.

Posted by: Sinodrom | Sep 11, 2006 12:22:22 PM

Sorry.... But I don't think the program directors only this two kinds of Chinese movies. ELECTION series don't have too much action scenes, but they still makes them to Western festivals. (At least Cannes and Toronto accept them)

Another example - Yang Zhang's SHOWER.

Posted by: no name | Sep 11, 2006 1:18:45 PM

I really don't understand why Variety and Screendaily bother reviewing arthouse films, since they are so trapped inside their marketing/box office framework. So Jia's film has little plot and little mass market potential? I'm stunned. Who'd have thought?

If you're going to review films, it helps to start from a position of respecting the filmmaker's intentions. It's absurd to imagine that Jia's primary interest is in having hordes of multiplex punters racing to see his film. If it was, he wouldn't make the films he does.

Exactly the same treatment was handed out to Apichatpong's film earlier in the festival, and to virtually every non-mainstream film that gets screened. It's like listening to John Coltrane and complaining that there are no lyrics. Do people really get paid to write such useless nonsense?

Posted by: thegreatnamedropper | Sep 11, 2006 11:59:50 PM

No only Screen Daily and Variety don'y like STILL LIFE.


[ Many journalists at the 11-day movie marathon had not seen the film when the prizes were announced, and after a screening of the Golden Lion winner following the awards ceremony late on Saturday the response of the packed theater was muted ]

Posted by: no name | Sep 12, 2006 12:42:13 AM

It seems almost irresponsible of Collett-White to quote ONLY the reactions of Italian critics, who'd been saying since day one that Italy was "due" for the Golden Lion, as if festival awards should be parceled out according some sort of quota system. Why do these reporters even bother attending the screenings if they just end up copy-and-pasting other writers' work? And it's certainly dishonest to imply as he does that STILL LIFE was an unapproved production (it wasn't), thereby bolstering the rather sad attempts to explain away the jury's decision as a knee-jerk "anti-Chinese" reaction to the Lou Ye situation.

Posted by: Bob Violence | Sep 12, 2006 2:15:15 AM

to no name:

Election is a Hong Kong movie. You see, I was writing about Mainland China (thus exculuding Taiwan and HK). Don’t care about politics here, but as far as movies are concerned mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong should be considered separate countries. Different filming environments!

“ELECTION series don't have too much action scenes, but they still makes them to Western festivals.”
Well yes, but it’s not a case of how much action there is. It’s just that festivals tend to follow the two tracks I mentioned above. Yes, I was generalizing! What’s more – I was writing about the two tendencies among program directors wondering if it was a case for Still Life.

Maybe it deserved the prize – I don’t know! I was just pointing a highly probable cause, supposing the film was bad.

Posted by: Sinodrom | Sep 12, 2006 11:05:28 AM

Post a comment