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The Breaking Ice film image; people seated around table

The Breaking Ice

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When Hao loses his phone on a solo trip to the wintery Chinese/Korean city of Yanji, tour guide Nana takes pity on him and invites him to dinner — to the surprise of her date, Xiao. They drink, they eat, they dance, they drink some more. They all end up back at her apartment, and when Hao misses his flight the next morning they invite him to stay longer. They visit the mountains and peer over the border. They eat, they drink, they dance some more. Nana and Hao wind up in bed. If Xiao minds, he doesn’t show it. Even if it’s just for a long weekend, they’re friends now.

Singaporean filmmaker Anthony Chen (Drift; Ilo Ilo) crafts a poignant, melancholy snapshot of three marginalized young people forging a connection on the edge of the world. Chen is curious about the cultural specificity of this place, where Korea bleeds into China, but in truth the characters will resonate with anyone who feels out of step with a meaningless job, a city that’s not home, a clock that won’t stop. Chen plays with metaphors of ice and water, channels some of the languour and exuberance of the nouvelle vague, and little by little he melts our hearts.

A sweet and shimmeringly beautiful film about how life can flow and then freeze and then thaw into something entirely new if you let it, Anthony Chen’s The Breaking Ice finds hope in the most frigid of places.

David Ehrlich, Indiewire

Its interweaving of powerful performances and spiritual complexity, eventually melded with local folklore, is nothing short of beautiful.

The Playlist

Jules et Jim for the seasonally depressed, full of emotional nooks and crannies that are excavated as the three actors let the push and pull between what is communicable and what must be suffered alone flicker across their faces.

Sophie Monks Kaufman, Little White Lies


Anthony Chen


Zhou Dongyu, Liu Hoaran, Qu Chuxiao

Country of Origin





In Mandarin and Korean with English subtitles

97 min

Book Tickets

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Meng Xie, Anthony Chen


Anthony Chen

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