April 4-14, 2019

Synopsis

In a small seaside town in Southern China, under the watchful gaze of a curiously placed, fifty-foot-tall Marilyn Monroe statue along the boardwalk, two naïve schoolgirls arrive at a modest motel accompanied by a middle-aged man. To Mia, a teenager working the reception desk, something just seems off. Following her suspicions, she closely watches the surveillance cameras, and when a crime is reported the next day she realizes she is the only one who truly knows what took place. For fear of losing her job, on which she desperately depends, she says nothing.

Meanwhile one of the victims, twelve-year-old Wen, finds that her troubles have only just begun. Trapped in a world that offers them no safety, Mia and Wen will be forced to find their own way out. Vivian Qu’s rugged examination of female agency adopts the familiar pot-boiler construction of the neo-noir to expose hard truths about the obstacles faced by young women in contemporary China. The film was a standout at the 2017 Venice Film Festival, where it premiered, and was nominated for the prestigious Golden Lion award there, signaling the arrival of a commanding new voice in Asian cinema who has planted a welcome female flag in the traditionally uber-masculine realm of the hard boiled.

–Christopher Holmes

Screenings