PROD Zhang Yuan
SCR Yang Yishu, Kong Ergou, Zhang Yuan, Li Xinyun
CAM Zhang Yuan, Cai Tao
ED Wu Yixiang
PROD DES An Bin
MUS Liu Yijun (Lao Wu)
PROD CO China Film / Beijing Asian Union Culture & Media / Beijing Century Good-tiding
Ever since the 1990s, Zhang Yuan has been one of China’s most important independent film directors. His recent films have defied the clear line between “approved” and “indie” filmmaking: produced independently, they are also designed to be accessible to Chinese audiences.
Zhang has always been interested in portraying youth culture in Beijing, from his groundbreaking underground rock film Beijing Bastards (1993) to his new drama Beijing Flickers. Derived from a photographic video installation that Zhang created for the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing, the film tells the interlocking stories of four economically marginal twenty-somethings struggling to make lives for themselves in Beijing. San Bao (Duan Bowen) is a romantic, prone to impulsive acts of violence and self-destruction. His friend Wang Ming (Lu Yulai) works in a luxury garage parking the Ferraris of the rich. Shi Shi (Xiao Shi) is a charismatic, narcissistic poet and transvestite performer, with a fresh South Korean nose job. And Youzi (co-writer Li Xinyun) is a sultry cabaret singer-songwriter with a healthy mothering instinct.
Each in turn faces being abandoned and exploited by lovers, friends and colleagues who have fully bought into that explosively developing post-bourgeois culture now infiltrating itself into every corner of Chinese society. Beijing Flickers looks deep into the psyches of this generation that doesn’t know quite what it wants, and finds at least flickers of hope that they can, together, make their own future.
— Shelly Kraicer