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Swimming Out Till the Sea Turns Blue

Director: Jia Zhangke

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Jia Zhang-Ke - Portrait (c) Xstream Pict

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

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