Swimming Out Till the Sea Turns Blue
Director: Jia Zhangke
In May 2019, a large number of prominent Chinese writers and scholars gathered in a village
in China’s Shanxi Province – which happens to be Jia Zhang-ke’s native province.
Images from this literary event open an 18-chapter ‘symphony’ which spans the history of Chinese society since 1949.
The story is told through memories of the late writer-activist Ma Feng and thetestimonies of three major writers who are active today: Jia Pingwa (born in the 1950s), Yu Hua (born in the 1960s) and Liang Hong (born in the 1970s). These writers recount their own lives and literary careers, which allows the film to weave a 70-year spiritual history of the Chinese people.
Ten years after his last documentary I Wish I Knew (screened in Un Certain Regard, Cannes 2011) Jia Zhang-ke returns to non-fiction with Swimming Out Till the Sea Turns Blue, the final
panel in his trilogy about the arts in China. It follows Venice winners Dong (2006), and Useless (2007).
Review by Tim Maerschand
Urgent FM - Kuleshov
About the director
Jia Zhangke was born in Fenyang, Shanxi, in 1970 and graduated from Beijing Film Academy. His debut feature Xiao Wu won prizes in Berlin, Vancouver and elsewhere. Since then, his films have routinely premiered in the major European festivals. Still Life won the Golden Lion in Venice in 2006, A Touch Of Sin won the Best Screenplay prize in Cannes in 2013 and Mountains May Depart and Ash Is Purest White were in competition in Cannes 2015 and 2018. Several of his films have blurred the lines between fiction and documentary.
SWIMMING OUT TILL THE SEA TURNS BLUE - Berlin 2020, Berlin Special
ASH IS PUREST WHITE - Cannes 2018, Competition
MOUNTAINS MAY DEPART- Cannes 2015, Competition
A TOUCH OF SIN - Cannes 2013, Best Screenplay
I WISH I KNEW (documentary) - Cannes 2010, Un Certain Regard
24 CITY - Cannes 2008, Competition
USELESS (documentary) - Venice 2007, Venice Horizons Documentary Award
STILL LIFE - Venice 2006, Golden Lion Award
DONG (documentary) - Venice 2006, Horizon
THE WORLD - Venice 2004, Competition
UNKNOWN PLEASURES - Cannes 2002, Competition
IN PUBLIC (documentary) - Marseille 2001, Grand Prix
PLATFORM - Venice 2000, Competition
XIAO WU - Berlin 1998, Wolfgang Staudte Award & Netpac Award