BURNING FRAME: A Monthly Anarchist Film Series

CALLING ALL LEFTISTS! The past few years have been a whirlwind: exhausting, invigorating, and ripe with potential. It’s tremendously difficult, when in the thick of it, to pause, reflect, or even find a moment to catch a breath. Especially when “it” refers to the rise of fascism on a global scale, with any number of future cataclysms hovering just over the horizon. But we digress.

Join us, then, for a series that asks: if not now, when? Come for great works of radical political filmmaking, stay for the generative discussions, or even just to gossip and gripe. The hope isthat this forum for authentic representations of successes, defeats, and the messy work of political action, will be thrilling, edifying, and maybe even inspire your next organizing project. To butcher the title of a great film for the sake of a moderately applicable pun: “Throw away your dogma, rally in the cinema.”


I’LL BE YOUR EYES, YOU’LL BE MINE
dirs. Keja Kramer and Stephen Dwoskin, 2006
47 mins. France.
In French with English Subtitles.

THURSDAY, JUNE 13 – 7:30 PM (double feature with IT MAY BE THAT BEAUTY HAS STRENGTHENED OUR RESOLVE)

TUESDAY, JUNE 25 – 7:30 PM (double feature with IT MAY BE THAT BEAUTY HAS STRENGTHENED OUR RESOLVE)

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Stephen Dwoskin: I think [Robert Kramer] was getting worn out in his search a bit, finding a way through, in an abstract sort of way, not knowing any longer exactly how to handle the material without getting into a repetition. Not knowing how far to go! You need a lot of energy to do it, you need a lot of motivation, because making films is a bit like a drug – and if you OD on it, it’s pretty hard. You can get lost very easily in it, like being stoned, and then demobilised, don’t you agree? I don’t know where Robert was in his private life, you probably know better.

Keja Kramer [Robert’s daughter]: I don’t think there’s another life than the film when you are in it.

Dwoskin: Well, making a film is life!

Kramer: Exactly, so he wasn’t living at home; he was shooting every day.

Dwoskin: But it’s also about how one feels about a relationship to one’s self at that time. To keep the ball bouncing – sometimes it’s very easy to give up. Making films for many people … it’s really hard work. If you lose your motivation for a moment, the whole thing could fall apart; it’s very heavy, very intense, and that intensity can be very exhausting …

Kramer: I was laughing to myself about shooting I’ll Be Your Eyes, and the idea of all those situations of dragging the tripod on a bicycle because it was too heavy to carry, and all these cameras on my back, walking out to the middle of a field to change into that green suit and turning the camera on, having nobody behind the camera, wandering around … In those moments, when you’re working within such a lonely configuration, you have only your own motivation to go on, your own self …

Dwoskin: Yeah, it’s the same.

Kramer: … for acknowledgement. But, even working here, when it’s just the two of us, you feel like there’s no world – the whole world is just this world, these images that we’ve pulled in.

Conversation between the directors recorded 2/11/ 06, published online in Rouge #9

IT MAY BE THAT BEAUTY HAS STRENGTHENED OUR RESOLVE
dirs. Nicole Brenez and Philippe Grandrieux, 2011
74 mins. France.
In French with English subtitles.

“Avant-garde cinema is not primarily defined by its economic origins, nor by a doctrinaire platform, nor a singular aesthetic: it diverts a technology born of military and industrial needs, reinscribes it within a dynamic of emancipation and therefore participates in a vast critical movement that culminates in the 18th century with the philosophy of Kant and the Enlightenment. If the work of art’s primary territory is that of the conscience or the work of faculties, its challenge consists of continuously reconfiguring the symbolic, to question the division between art and life, such as the humiliating division between the ideal and reality. For an avant-garde artist, art only has sense in its refusal, in its contesting, its pulverization of the limits of the symbolic; it exists as an end within itself or as a means of directly intervening in the real…

The portrait here is not a link, not a report, not a clarification, nor an unveiling. It gathers and gives itself the means (visual, stylistic) of reconstituting the unsounded, volumetric, immeasurable properties of a presence, a fortiori when it concerns the presence of a creator with an exceptional historical journey. A two-dimensional image provides us with an approximate figure; it cannot open us up to the being whose contours it adjusts like a skimpy outfit and, more often than not, falls back on an archetype or a cliché. Far from the usual portraits, that of Masao Adachi by Philippe Grandrieux resembles nothing aside from James Joyce’s Ulysses, an inverted Ulysses: a psychic odyssey that guides us from an internal monologue, through confidence, by the objectification of external witnesses, by spatial and temporal contextualization, by epiphanies born of the appearances of faces, by the constructivist revelation of the means of its production, and in its conclusion, describes to us the utter complexity of a being without having consigned him to an identity—as we are wont to do to those we love because, seen through a loving light, they flood us with an inexhaustible infinity.”

From “Cultural Guerrillas,” Brenez and Grandreux’s manifesto on the substance of their collaboration, published 3/1/12 at Moving Image Source

UNHINGED

UNHINGED
dir. Don Gronquist, 1982
79 mins. United States.
In English.

SATURDAY, JUNE 8 – MIDNIGHT
FRIDAY, JUNE 14 – MIDNIGHT
FRIDAY, JUNE 21 – MIDNIGHT
SATURDAY, JUNE 29 – MIDNIGHT

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Shot in Oregon in the early 80’s, UNHINGED follows three college girls on a trip to a jazz festival ‘upstate’. They get stoned and crash into a ditch, only to wake up in an old mansion with a strange woman, her mother and a caretaker.

Trapped by a storm with no way to contact anyone (“the closest phone is 2 miles away!”), the girls hunker down to recuperate until the roads clear. It’s not long, however, before strange sounds and phenomena tip them off to something being very, very wrong at the Primrose Estate.

The performances range in tone from ‘on too many painkillers’ to ‘community theater Tennessee Williams’, only adding to the surreal-dreamlike feel of the whole thing.

Featuring a synth score by John Newton that’s been described as sounding like “a black mass that’s being sabotaged by an all-skeleton Soft cell cover band”, UNHINGED is way more fun and moody than your average video nasty.

CONTENT WARNING: While the body-count and gore are relatively tame for a Video Nasty, the ending features a problematic twist, so be prepared for a decidedly Not Woke climax.

MONDO MANHATTAN

MONDO MANHATTAN
Dir. the Chain Gang
1987-2007, USA

SATURDAY, JUNE 15 – 7:30 PM
CAST IN ATTENDANCE + Q&A! (This event is $10.)

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Known for being 20+ years in the making and screening but twice before in Manhattan, this rare screening of Chain Gang’s MONDO MANHATTAN is a dispatch from an all-but-gone New York, with cast in attendance. Its Brooklyn debut…

“The Publisher, awestruck, can barely get the words out: They said it couldn’t be done. They said it shouldn’t be done. And yet here we were, in the side room of an Avenue A bar to bear two hours witness to the fact that, indeed, it had finally been done: MONDO MANHATTAN… the movie, twenty years since most of the world first learned of the film-in-progress in the pages of Forced Exposure #13. This classic interview of Chain Gang singer Ricky Luanda, conducted by Jimmy Johnson & Byron Coley, made some sense of 1987’s amazing & mysterious MONDO MANHATTAN “soundtrack” lp on Lost Records, although it must be said, many questions remained. The Music Director– holed up in the iron-rich hills of northwest Jersey at the time– remembers clearly the cold, snowy day he walked from the Port Authority Bus Terminal down 8th Avenue to Midnight Records on 23rd Street to purchase the album. Those who didn’t know the city then can’t begin to imagine the fun that even such a simple trip as that entailed. Others will tell ya’ll about 14th St, Cooper Square, the Bowery, etc: today, with each strip more denatured than the next (or vice-versa), who gives a shit, really? It happened once & memories (“I remember the worry– would I have enough money left over for Show World tokens?” the Music Director recalls) & some artifacts remain. One of which, we can now declare, is MONDO MANHATTAN, the bastard spawn of Andre de Toth & Herschell Gordon Lewis adopted by Sam Peckinpah. Indeed, as much as we love BRING ME THE HEAD OF ALFREDO GARCIA & TWO-LANE BLACKTOP, THE WILD BUNCH & COCKFIGHTER, if Warren Oates had to die so that Ricky Luanda’s Mr. Mondo could be born… it was probably worth it.

I can only ask, is this the best punk rock “documentary” since Raymond Pettibon’s SIR DRONE? Without question but it’s a lot more than that too. Stay tuned.” – Brian Berger, Who Walk In Brooklyn, 2007

MANGOSHAKE


MANGOSHAKE
dir. Terry Chiu, 2015
104 mins. Canada.
In English.

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 5 – 7:30 PM
SUNDAY, JUNE 9 – 7:30 PM
FRIDAY, JUNE 14 – 10 PM
MONDAY, JUNE 17 -7:30 PM

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Bummer in the summer! What happens with a pack of listless teens stop being polite, and start getting real serious about making money with their competing DIY fruit drink stands?

A special treat from our neighbors to the north, Terry Chiu’s coming-of-age send-up left audiences in stitches from Austin to Buenos Aires. Scrappy, honest, but hardly saccharine, Chiu’s improvisatory style and keen eye for interpersonal pettiness goes toe-to-toe with the more polished debuts of his better-heeled colleagues. See the film birth.movies.death called “the heart inside the roughest cinematic outsider art,” when MANGOSHAKE lands at Brooklyn’s outsiders-only cinema.

MATCH CUTS PRESENTS: HANGIN’ WITH LEO!


WEDNESDAY, JUNE 19th – 7:30 PM

ONE NIGHT ONLY!

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HANGIN’ WITH LEO!
prod. Doug Waterman, 1998.
32 mins. United States.
In English.

Hangin’ With Leo!! – Leonardo DiCaprio: The Unauthorized Documentary VHS

MATCH CUTS is a weekly podcast centered on video, film and the moving image. Match Cuts Presents is dedicated to presenting de-colonialized cinema, LGBTQI films, Marxist diatribes, video art, dance films, sex films, and activist documentaries with a rotating cast of presenters from all spectrums of the performing and plastic arts and surrounding humanities. Match Cuts is hosted by Nick Faust and Kachine Moore.

REYNOLS “SINTI BOTUVA TAPES”

SUNDAY, JUNE 16 – 7:30 PM
ONE NIGHT ONLY!
Acourtis from Reynols in person for Q&A! (This event is $10.)

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REYNOLS “SINTI BOTUVA TAPES”
dir. Various, 2018.
Various, 81 min.

Screening to celebrate the release of the boxset REYNOLS “MINECXIO EMANATIONS 1993-2018” on Picadisk.

“SINTI BOTUVA TAPES” compiles videos of Argentine cult band REYNOLS. The band started in Buenos Aires in 1993 and it integrates Down Syndrome drummer Miguel Tomasín along with guitarists Roberto Conlazo and Alan Courtis, The film shows a diversity of live concerts and various activities over a period more than 25 years.

The film includes:

1. Saludo Vincher Vinchas (Dir. Miguel Mitlag)
2. Colegio Cristoforo Colombo, 1994 (Dir. A.Ruiz and unknown)
3. No Music Festival, The Tonic, New York 2001 (Dir. Mike Shiflet)
4. Flesh Sound Bs. As.,1999 (Reynols selected archives)
5. Somewhere near Kingston, New York, 2001 (Dir. Mike Shiflet)
6. Papagayos en la luz, Flesh Sound, Bs.As., 2001 (Reynols selected archives)
7. O’Hara Mansion, Ohio, 2001 (Dir. Reynols)
8. Fusa, Bs.As., 2001 (Reynols selected archives)
9. Lo Pawe Recy Plays Norway (Dir. Tom Løberg)
10. Camio Flatdas (Dir. Reynols)
11. Lor Nindio Pepelacho in Brussels (Dir. Christophe Piette)

THE PROSTITUTES OF LYON SPEAK


THE PROSTITUTES OF LYON SPEAK
(LES PROSTITUEES DE LYON PARLENT)
dir. Carole Roussopoulos, 1975
46 minutes. France.
In French with English subtitles.

SUNDAY, JUNE 2 – 7:30 PM
ONE NIGHT ONLY!
(This event is $10.)

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The state is a pimp. The greatest one!

In 1975, escalating tensions between the local government and sex workers in Lyon, France came to a head. Following a scandal linking the vice squad with area brothels, the police made a show of cracking down on sex workers, dramatically increasing fines for soliciting, and retroactively retrieving an old law which condemned repeat offenders to prison. Dozens of women suddenly faced jail time and the loss of custody of their children.

Pushed to the edge, on June 2nd, about a hundred women took over the church of St. Nizier in the center of Lyon. They set up a dormitory inside the church, as well as a monitor on the street outside to broadcast their message to onlookers and passersby. Their protest action itself was short lived, but it captured national attention, and sparked a wave of similar church occupations throughout France. Today it is commonly regarded as the birth of the modern sex workers rights movement.

Pioneering feminist documentary filmmaker Carole Roussopoulos visited St. Nizier during the occupation to speak with activists about their lives, their work, and the repression they faced as sex workers. She recorded these interviews with the utmost simplicity, forgoing artifice to bear witness to their stories. In this vital document, she invites us to do the same.

This program is part of SEX WORK IS WORK, an ongoing benefit series exploring sex work in film, programmed in protest of the SESTA/FOSTA law. All proceeds from this event will go to Lysistrata Mutual Care Collective and Fund.

GOLDSTEIN


GOLDSTEIN

dirs. Philip Kaufman and Benjamin Manaster, 1964
85 mins. United States.

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 5 – 10 PM
SUNDAY, JUNE 9 – 5 PM
MONDAY, JUNE 17 – 10 PM
SUNDAY, JUNE 23 – 5 PM
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 26 – 7:30 PM

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A curious document of mid-’60s low-budget filmmaking, GOLDSTEIN is the directorial debut of Philip Kaufman (THE RIGHT STUFF, INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS remake, and co-creator of Indiana Jones, etc). Initially conceived as a novel inspired by Martin Buber and Yiddish folklore, Kaufman was urged by Anais Nïn to turn it into a mystical screwball film. Enlisting many of the major players of the Second City Troupe (Del Close, Viola Spolin, Severn Darden), plus comedian Jack Burns, author Nelson Algren, and a pre-SHADOWS Ben Carruthers (did you know his son was the original drummer of Megadeth?), it’s a free-wheeling parade of mid-century improvisational acting and a tour of ’60s Chicago. Most impressively, the film was photographed by Aldofas Mekas, whose ingenuous camera-sense shows with some very adhoc tracking shots and creative use of widescreen. It debuted at Cannes in May 1964, where it was lauded by the likes of Jean Renoir and Francois Truffaut and took home the Prix de Nouvelle Critique — though viewers expecting magisterial arthouse should look elsewhere, because GOLDSTEIN is pure American scrap.

SHEILA AND THE BRAINSTEM


SHEILA AND THE BRAINSTEM

dir. Matt McDowell and Russell Bates, 1989
79 min. United States.

THURSDAY, JUNE 6 – 7:30 PM
MONDAY, JUNE 10 – 10 PM
SATURDAY, JUNE 22 – MIDNIGHT
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 26 – 10PM

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Taz, a desert mystic devoted to a lifestyle of non-stop consumption and convenience, travels the countryside in search of a magic brainstem that grants its owner access to a paradise at the center of the Earth. Unfortunately for Taz, three no-good, beverage-obsessed, anti-corporate punks named Sean, Head, and Billy Dork mistake the arcane object for beef jerky and abscond with it in a minimart robbery.

Meanwhile, newlyweds Bruce and Sheila are taken hostage — Bruce by Taz, and Sheila by the punks — but Sheila escapes and sets out on her own, while Taz befriends Bruce. On the long road to paradise (a portal somewhere in Nebraska, where life is everlasting and all stores are open 24 hours a day), conversations about commodity, convenience, love, life, and death trail behind cars like tail lights in the dark.

Filmed in 1989 for $100,000 in and around Gridley, CA, SHEILA AND THE BRAINSTEM is a road movie, a crash-course in punk philosophy, and a commercial for soft drinks that don’t exist. Also, Red Kross plays a bar band (with Bob Forrest on vocals). An ambitious and rewarding first feature, criminally under-appreciated but deserving of a place on the shelf next to REPO MAN, BORDER RADIO and ALONE IN THE T-SHIRT ZONE.

Ahead of its first-ever physical release, Spectacle is pleased as punch to present this rarity throughout the month of June.

“Expanding a kind of throwaway Robert Altman gag, it’s a pop road film about America as a chain-store complex. Boasting a staunch heroine who extricates her consorts from a maze of tract housing, it droops into the Twilight Zone for a bodysnatcher parable about the conformity of rebellion.” – Dennis Delrogh, L.A. Weekly

Presented by Barbarian Video.

BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JUNE: Tiananmen Square Revisited

BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JUNE commemorates the 30th anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, referred to in mainland China as 六四事件 – the “June 4 incident”. None of these movies adopts an explicitly polemical stance; instead, it’s a necessarily imperfect selection of works shedding light on the botched dreams and secret economies that came after the Cultural Revolution, but before the liberalizations of the 1990s – a process that led, of course, to the present moment’s extravaganza of state-managed turbocapitalism. In the spirit of the infamous “tank man” photograph (iconic to the rest of the world, but scrubbed near-entirely from the Chinese internet), this series takes a look at the cultural context surrounding the 1989 protests (and, implicitly, their bloody suppression) in media res.

BUMMING IN BEIJING
(流浪北京)
dir. Wu Wenguang, 1990
70 minutes.
In Mandarin with English subtitles.

MONDAY, JUNE 3 – 10 PM
TUESDAY, JUNE 11 – 7:30 PM
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 19 – 10 PM
THURSDAY, JUNE 27 – 10 PM

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In 1990, Chinese documentaries were almost exclusively stodgy, didactic talking-head affairs broadcast on state-run media. Then came Wu Wenguang’s BUMMING IN BEIJING, kicking off an entire independent documentary scene in the country. Shot directly before and after the Tiananmen Square Massacre on cameras taken from a government TV station, BUMMING IN BEIJING follows five broke bohemians (including future art stars like Zhang Dali, long before they found fame) in grimy late 80s Beijing. Shot in a vérité style that would soon be adopted by a new generation of filmmakers, the movie includes an onscreen mental breakdown, a time-capsule view of the emergence of the country’s avant-garde, and proof that the hippest place in China used to be KFC.

“The prolonged moments of near silence in BUMMING IN BEIJING produce the aesthetic effect of outlasting the remembered roar of government tanks.” – Ernest Larsen, Art In America

BLACK SNOW
(本命年)
dir. Xie Fei, 1990
107 mins. China.
In Mandarin with English subtitles.

MONDAY, JUNE 3 – 7:30 PM
TUESDAY, JUNE 11 – 10 PM
MONDAY, JUNE 24 – 7:30 PM
FRIDAY, JUNE 28 – 10 PM

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Winner of the Silver Bear at the 1990 Berlinale, Xie Fei’s kitchen-sink drama BLACK SNOW was in production before the June 4 Incident, but reflects the bitterness and unease of the period from first frame to last without need for any explicit political statement or reference. In a smoldering early performance, Chinese superstar Jiang Wen (DEVILS ON THE DOORSTEP, KEEP COOL, ROGUE ONE) stars Li Huiquan, a derelict twentysomething returning home after a three-year term at a labor camp, having been implicated in the murder of a young man who was hanging out with his ex-girlfriend. Surrounded by alcoholic friends from childhood and squabbling adults in his claustrophobic slum, Li falls for a torch singer at his favorite nightclub named Yaqiu (Lin Cheng), and the ensuing struggles – freedom versus the need to make a living, going straight versus turning a profit – are unique to this vision of Beijing as a den of black-market iniquity, while linking seamlessly with the classic themes of film noir. Bleak but exhilarating to behold (largely thanks to Jiang’s tight-lipped leading turn), BLACK SNOW is ultimately about the lack of options for Li’s generation to have an undisturbed inner life, living in close quarters in the aftermath of the Cultural Revolution.

“Li represents a lost generation of young people who rebel against the ideals of their forefathers and the traditions of their country… The tragedy is that they are at a loss where to go or what to believe in. Everyone in China now wants to find a new ideal, a new belief, because the Cultural Revolution destroyed our old beliefs and our old system… We realized, after it was too late, that we had been deceived — we had destroyed our past, our values, our lives, but had created nothing.” – Xie Fei

THE SQUARE
(广场)
dirs. Zhang Yuan and Duan Jinchuan, 1994
100 mins. China.
In Mandarin with English subtitles.

TUESDAY, JUNE 4 – 7:30 PM
MONDAY, JUNE 10 – 7:30 PM
TUESDAY, JUNE 18 – 7:30 PM
SATURDAY, JUNE 29 – 10 PM

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Never before screened in New York City and long-suppressed in China, this documentary by the renowned Sixth Generation filmmaker Zhang Yuan (MAMA, SONS, BEIJING BASTARD) sprang from an innocent-enough idea in the years after the June 4 Incident: Tiananmen Square was a public space, so who was to stop Zhang (with Duan Jinchuan) from filming day-to-day mundanities in the guise of working for state TV? It’s a fascinating (and sometimes, dryly funny) glimpse at China on the eve of sweeping economic transition, with accoutrements of the Mao era perhaps uncanny present. Largely emptied out in the years after the Incident, this Square is defined by its absences, and the unease of its own legacy.

“Anyone who knows about Chinese history understands that whatever huge historical changes play out, Tiananmen Square is often the stage – for instance, the June Fourth Incident in 1989, Tomb-Sweeping Day in 1976 when crowds came out to mourn Zhou Enlai. In 1966 it was there in the square that Mao Zedong received more than six million Red Guards. If we go back even further, there is the 1949 ceremony to celebrate the founding of the People’s Republic of China and, if we like, we can go back even further to the May Fourth Movement and beyond. On one level, Tiananmen Square can be said to be a political symbol; at the same time, it is like a massive stage… Especially in the years following the June Fourth Incident, I noticed how quiet it had become. I would see people there flying kites, peddling things, going for strolls, and I would see so many policemen, plainclothes officers… I felt the pressing need to pick up my camera and record some of those more interesting people and attempt to capture that feeling of the square.” – Zhang Yuan


LAN YU
(藍宇)
dir. Stanley Kwan, 2001
96 mins. China/Hong Kong.
In Mandarin with English subtitles.

TUESDAY, JUNE 4 – 10 PM
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 12 – 7:30 PM
SUNDAY, JUNE 16 – 5 PM
SUNDAY, JUNE 23 – 7:30 PM

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Based on a novel first published online by one “Beijing Comrade” in 1998, LAN YU is a breakthrough film, a queer drama set against the backdrop of the student movement that culminated in the Tiananmen Square Massacre. While the book was infamous for its erotic descriptive passages, director Stanley Kwan wanted to expand the source material to focus on the tortured romance between the story’s eponymous architecture student (Liu Ye) and his lover, a closeted businessman of the older generation named Chen Handong (Hu Jun). The result is a film that’s both elliptical and brutally sharp, a diagnosis in the class differences and mores (and thus, denials) that helped foment the dissent of the late eighties – in particular, the corruption of China’s bureaucratic (and, by proximity to government, emerging bourgeois) classes. It’s also an edge-of-your-seat portrayal of desire and devastation through Lan Yu’s fast-eroding innocence, with a plot spanning multiple years of unrequited passion.

Widely heralded as one of the greatest living Hong Kong filmmakers for works like CENTER STAGE and ROUGE, Stanley Kwan has still never gotten a proper retrospective in North America; hopefully these screenings will help renew interest in his fascinating and singular body of work. “In my last film THE ISLAND TALES, I made simple things too complicated, “he said. “And so this time I’ve tried to make complicated things less complicated, or simple things even simpler… What I was interested in was how we could transform June 4 into the moment that Chen Handong commits to Lan Yu… The fact that the story took place in Beijing, a city foreign to me, didn’t bother me…. I might not be Lan Yu and my boyfriend might not be Chen Handong, but virtually everything they go through in the novel I’ve been through with my partner.”

“Courageously simple and frank… The film eliminates most of the novel’s near-porno sex scenes and tones down the melodrama, producing a matter of fact and emotionally truthful account of a relationship marked by its time and place. Superbly acted, too.” – Time Out London

“Pulpy and mesmerizing.” – Carla Meyer, San Francisco Chronicle