Jia Zhangke is one of the most daring and prolific Chinese filmmakers currently working today, having burst onto the international scene with his sophomore film “Platform” in 2000, and most recently releasing “Ash Is Purest White” last year. The triptych emotional epic teamed him again with his wife and muse, Zhao Tao. His films “24 City,” “A Touch of Sin,” and “Mountains May Depart” also screened at the Cannes Film Festival to massive acclaim. IndieWire now shares an exclusive trailer for his rare 2010 film “I Wish I Knew” below, which opens at New York City’s Metrograph on January 24.
While Jia has primarily worked in narrative fiction films, he has, throughout his 20-plus-year career, forayed into documentary, and his 2010 nonfiction outing “I Wish I Knew” is a standout. Featuring sequences with Zhao Tao and even Taiwanese filmmaker Hou Hsiao-hsien, “I Wish I Knew” is imbued with Jia’s poetic sensibilities, and doesn’t conform to typical documentary practices, and as a sprawling vision of Shanghai, it’s beautifully shot.
Here’s the synopsis of this new director’s cut, courtesy of distributor Kino Lorber: “Shanghai’s past and present flow together in Jia Zhangke’s poetic and poignant portrait of this fast-changing port city. Restoring censored images and filling in forgotten facts, Jia provides an alternative version of 20th century China’s fraught history as reflected through life in the Yangtze city. He builds his narrative through a series of eighteen interviews with people from all walks of life — politicians’ children, ex-soldiers, criminals, and artists (including Taiwanese master Hou Hsiao-hsien) — while returning regularly to the image of his favorite lead actress, Zhao Tao, wandering through the Shanghai World Expo Park. (The film was commissioned by the World Expo, but is anything but a piece of straightforward civic boosterism.) A richly textured tapestry full of provocative juxtapositions.”
After playing the Metrograph for a week beginning on January 24, the film will travel to Los Angeles and Chicago on February 14, followed by a national rollout. Check out the new trailer, available exclusively on IndieWire, below.