Trinity to Release Feng Xiaogang’s Youth in UK Cinemas Day-and-Date with China
Youth, the latest work from the award-winning Feng Xiaogang, one of China’s most popular and internationally acclaimed directors, has recently been the most talked about film in China following the pulling of its original September release date, allegedly due to its sensitive themes and Cultural Revolution setting.
The coming-of-age drama tracks the tempestuous fate of a People’s Liberation Army dance troupe from the Cultural Revolution of 1966 to 1976 through to the 1990s, and had its World Premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, before going on to open the first edition of Jia Zhangke’s Pingyao International Film Festival. Youth has been winning praise and strong word of mouth from both critics and audiences, with interest and excitement levels building ahead of its rescheduled Chinese release on December 15th, which director Feng Xiaogang took to social media platform Weibo to announce.
UK-based distributor Trinity Filmed Entertainment acquired Youth at AFM in November, with a release being set to coincide with the film’s Chinese and North American opening, covering key cities including London and Manchester, with more to be added. From Trinity:’ We’re grateful to be able to be able to bring such a timely and important film about China’s recent history, from one of the greatest directors working in China, to UK audiences at the same time as it is released in its home country.’
The day-and-date release with China gives UK film-goers the chance to see this important and very timely film on the big screen at the same time as domestic audiences, and is set to be one of the biggest Chinese movie events of the year.
From the ‘Chinese Spielberg’ Feng Xiaogang (I Am Not Madame Bovary) comes one of the most anticipated and controversial films of the year. Set against the backdrop of the Cultural Revolution and Sino-Vietnam War, Youth was controversially denied by China’s censors. With autobiographical origins, Youth is an epic spanning a decade of fear and tension, and tackles a topic that few filmmakers could mount.
Youth is a blood-soaked coming-of-age story spanning the decade of 1970. It follows Xiaoping (Miao Miao), a naïve recent military recruit whose eagerness to impress is quashed when Mao’s death galvanises tensions that culminated in the 1979 Sino-Vietnamese war. Denied by the censors in China, Youth is a timely epic drenched in political commentary from one of the greatest directors working in China today.
Feng Xiaogang Talks about Youth
Motivation for the shooting of Youth 拍攝《芳華》的動力
Probably every male soldier has a female soldier in his mind. I entered a propaganda team at the age of 19 and then the Art Troupe at the age of 20. And the life in the Art Troupe in the army was unforgettable for me for many years. Many things have been erased from my memory, but this period of time will be kept in my mind forever. When recalling the past difficult days, I can only describe this period of time as a colorful experience.
It was in 2002 when I began to write I Devote My Youth to You, and it occurred to me at that time that I can weave such memories into a movie. So many years have passed, as a movie director reaching the age of 60, I began to shoot this movie. I’m quite eager to dig out my memory, and I certainly want to find some factors different from my real life at the Cultural Troupe. That is to say, I will amplify some wonderful moments in my past life.
Memories of the female soldiers of the Cultural Troupe 文工團的女兵記憶
The members of the Dance Team of the Cultural Troupe would take a shower at noon every day. When going past me, those female soldiers chatted and laughed, with a washing basin in their hands, and the fragrance of shampoo from their bodies lingered in the air. At that time, I would take my lunch box to the canteen on time just to meet them. If I didn’t meet them, I would not give up. I would return and move backwards and forwards three times.
Youth is the last movie on my wishlist 《芳華》是我願望清單上的最後一部電影
For many directors, the first movie they shoot would be about their youth. But for me, I have waited for several decades. The reason is that I have a though in mind that, this would amplify the favorable impression of the Cultural Troupe, including the actual appearance of the Cultural Troupe. It would not be that perfect if we take a close look at it. So better keep some distance. And the insignificant things were omitted, only those most important ones were kept. When looking back with the sedimentation of the time, it would be more sentimental. I faced many setbacks when I shot A World Without Thieves, 1942, I Am Not Madame Bovary, and so as the movie Youth. We spent RMB 35 million to reproduce the scene for the Cultural Troupe. After the sign of the Cultural Troupe was put up, I stepped into the Rehearsal Hall. Listening to the playing of the band and seeing the scene of the rehearsal of the actors/actresses, I felt that I returned to the Cultural Troupe in my memory. What a satisfying experience! It’s great to be a director!Interpretation
Interpretation on the movie title of Youth 對電影標題《芳華》的解讀
Youth means fragrant and colorful things and carries the charms of youthfulness and prettiness. It perfectly match the impression of beauty in the memory.
Description of the memory of youth 對青春的記憶
Pretty good. I was envied by everyone when I was enrolled in the Cultural Troupe of the army. I entered and left the Cultural Troupe at the age of 19 and 27 respectively. It had satisfied all my wishes at that time. I was fond of painting and wished to be a professional artist. Meanwhile, I’d like to be a member of the Cultural Troupe in the army. And both wishes had come true. Therefore, when I was about to leave the Cultural Troupe in 1984, I was quite reluctant. I spent my precious youth on publicity work at the Cultural Troupe.
Remarks about the episode of war in the movie 關於電影中的戰爭片段
The episode of war cost RMB 7 million. And a 6-minute footage was accomplished just in one shot. Every detail was real without any computer generated imageries. The creativity and technical contents were comprehensively upgraded compared with the Assembly. There should be no problems for each tiny detail. And the explosion points, performance of the actors/actresses, positions, motions of the cameramen, aerial and underground work, everything must be quite precise. In Youth, there’re not only dancing and singing, there’re also the cruel wars and brave sacrifices.
Remarks about the dissolution of the Cultural Troupe 關於文工團的解體
That was also the last shot of the Cultural Troupe. The last meal, the last performance, the last get-together… When the trumpet sounded, everyone burst into tears. To shoot a movie, only if you believe and love the role and the team, you can influence others.
About Preliminary Preparation 關於前期準備
I had been waiting for a female screenwriter, as the girls in the Cultural Troupe had left the deepest impressions to me. I sincerely invited Yan Geling to be screenwriter of Youth. A major reason was that she happened to share the same experience with me. She once worked for Hubei Cultural Troupe. When talking about the life in the Cultural Troupe, we were quite agreeable with each other. I’d like to specifically express my appreciation to Yan Geling. Without her, Youth would have come to a standstill.
The Movie Commune has been there for three years and it was built just for movies. Another important reason was that it was impossible to find perfect scenes for the 1970s nowadays. So we just established one.
Preliminary preparation and intensified training of the Cultural Troupe
We had the actors/actresses put on military uniforms and observe their rehearsal. In addition, we organized the band to work with the Dance Team. After the signboard of the Cultural Troupe was put up on the finished gate, I stepped into the Rehearsal Hall. I heard the playing of the band and saw the girls wearing the dancing dresses. Their dresses were wet through by the sweat and their hair was adjoined to the skin also by the sweat. I felt quite contented. I felt I returned to the exact age and the exact life of the Cultural Troupe.
The preparation of Youth was started in last August. All actors/actresses, including Huang Xuan, received collective intensified trainings in advance. The contents of the intensified trainings included military items such as military appearance and bearing, backpack packing, alignment and shooting, professional items such as vocal music, musical instrument and dancing as well as special items such as allegro and medical treatment. The reason of doing so was that this was a collective. When the shooting started, they really cooperated as if they were comrade-in-arms within the same Cultural Troupe for several years.
Behind the Scene of Youth《芳華》幕後紀錄片
Book Tickets from
Selected ODEON cinemas from 15 December 2017
London Haymarket Panton Street
Birmingham Broadway Plaza
Edinburgh Lothain Road
Manchester Great Northern
About Trinity Cine Asia
Trinity Filmed Entertainment has been dedicated to bringing outstanding feature films from all over the world to film lovers in the UK since its founding in 2006. Trinity owns the Cine Asia label, the leading distributor of premium Asian film. Learn more at http://www.trinityfilm.co.uk/
關於 Trinity Cine Asia