The next Masters of Asian Cinema film is Jia Zhangke’s 2004 feature The World, which screens on Tuesday, March 12 at 6:30 p.m. at Pickford Film Center, 1318 Bay St. in Bellingham.
The World is Jia’s fourth feature and the first to be officially approved for release in China. Set and filmed in an actual theme park, The World explores the lives of young people working as everything from security guards to stage performers. This film is both about the rural-to-urban migrants who over the past few decades have formed an important part of China's story, and about working dead-end jobs while dreaming of a better life.
The World was the first of Jia’s films to be set outside his home province of Shanxi, and although this film operates on a somewhat wider stage, his realist focus on the lives of ordinary people from the provinces remains. Before this film, Jia’s earlier work garnered him international attention on the festival circuit. His 2000 feature Platform was the first to star Zhao Tao, who has appeared in every film since and who plays the lead in The World.
“It is a deeply affecting film, anchored by Zhao Tao’s extraordinary range as an actor,” explained series curator and WWU librarian Jeff Purdue. “We’ll be screening Jia’s newest film Ash is Purest White in May, so this is a rare chance to see two wonderful films by one of the greatest of contemporary directors on the big screen here in Bellingham.”
Co-sponsored by Western Libraries and Pickford Film Center, the Masters of Asian Cinema series continues the rich tradition that began with the Masters of Japanese Cinema series, one of the Pickford's longest running and most popular series. Each film in the Masters of Asian Cinema series begins with an introduction from select speakers including local professors, artists, and educators.
The World will be introduced by Roger Thompson, professor of History at Western. Thompson has used this film and others by Jia Zhangke in “Film as History: The People’s Republic of China,” a course he first taught in 2016, He specializes in modern Chinese history, and has written extensively on Jia’s home province of Shanxi and its relationship with the West.