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An epic human drama set in motion by events beyond our control, “Aftershock” sweeps across three crucial decades in recent Chinese history. Acclaimed director Feng Xiaogang’s highly anticipated new film opens and closes with Tangshan and Chengdu, two of the most severe earthquakes ever witnessed. As dramatized in the novel of the same name by Chinese Canadian author Zhang Ling, this story explores the wounds and resilience of a family decimated by loss.

The hot summer night of July 28, 1976, falls on the unsuspecting town of Tangshan, where two seven-year-old twins – born before the introduction of China’s one-child policy – enjoy a typical sibling relationship. Their affectionate quarrels slowly subside into the darkness as they fall asleep amid the modern coolness of a newly purchased electric fan. But during the night, the earth begins to tremble. The children awake to the cries of their mother and the urgent, unthinkable question of a rescue worker: “Who should be saved: the girl or the boy?” Trapped under the same slab, digging out one would inevitably result in collapsing the wreckage onto the other. In a whisper, their mother mutters, “The boy.” Considered dead, the girl is laid to rest next to her father’s corpse, but unexpectedly wakes up the following day as an orphan (beautifully played as an adult by rising star Zhang Jingchu) and tries to adjust to a new life within the loving care of the family who adopts her.

As their two lives take different paths over the years, “Aftershock” uses the core story of the earthquake to explore a controversial issue in Chinese culture – the preference for a son over a daughter – while exploring such complex subjects as survival, family relationships, guilt and post-traumatic stress with equal sensitivity. Feng transforms his characteristically acute and ironic observations of contemporary China into sharp historical analysis. Painting an emotional epic with potent strokes of truth, he has brought to life a new model of disaster cinema that is intimate, choral and uniquely Chinese. [Synopsis courtesy of Giovanna Fulvi, Toronto International Film Festival]

The Assassin

9th century China. 10-year-old general’s daughter Nie Yinniang is abducted by a nun who initiates her into the martial arts, transforming her into an exceptional assassin charged with eliminating cruel and corrupt local governors. One day, having failed in a task, she is sent back by her mistress to the land of her birth, with orders to kill the man to whom she was promised – a cousin who now leads the largest military region in North China. After 13 years of exile, the young woman must confront her parents, her memories and her long-repressed feelings.
A slave to the orders of her mistress, Nie Yinniang must choose: sacrifice the man she loves or break forever with the sacred way of the righteous assassins. [Synopsis courtesy of Cannes Film Festival]

The Rooftop

Taiwanese pop sensation Jay Chou, drawing on his years as an actor, director, and recording star, creates a fantasy playground of music, moves, and magic as a backdrop to an action comedy which pays homage to the wondrous musicals of the past, while exploding to life with today’s sound and spirit.

Back to 1942

In 1942, Henan Province was devastated by the most tragic famine in modern Chinese history, resulting in the deaths of at least three million men, women and children. Although the primary cause of the famine was a severe drought, it was exacerbated by locusts, windstorms, earthquakes, epidemic disease and the corruption of the ruling Kuomintang government.

Saving General Yang

When a rival nation sends troops to invade the Song Dynasty, the emperor sends general Yang Ye (Adam Cheng) to defend the nation. However, Yang’s place in the court is shaky due to a feud with Pan Renmei caused by the accidental death of his son at the hands of one of Yang’s sons. At the battle, Yang is abandoned by Pan’s troops, leaving him trapped in the face of an attack by Yeli Yuan (Shao Bing), an enemy general who wants to kill Yang to avenge his father. After learning about their father’s predicament, Yang Ye’s seven sons set out to rescue their father at any cost.