“Fukuoka” and “Vanishing Days” Selected to the Berlinale Forum


“Fukuoka” and “Vanishing Days” Selected to the Berlinale Forum

The article was originally posted on Parallax Films with 2740 views.
Written by Jiexiao Ying 2019.01.18

Translated by Pei Shang 2019.6.15

On January 18, 2019, Berlinale officially announced that acclaimed director Zhang Lu’s new film Fukuoka (2019) and 22-year-old director Zhu Xin’s debut feature, Vanishing Days (2019), were nominated for the 69th Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale) in the Forum section. This is the international premiere of Fukuoka. And after being selected to the Busan International Film Festival New Currents in Korea, and the competition section of Marrakech International Film Festival in Morocco, this is the first time that Vanishing Days appeared at one of the three major European film festivals and met European audiences.

The Forum section of Berlinale was founded in the 1970s by the German Arsenal – Institute for Film and Video Art. It was originally designed to criticize the invisible barriers of film selection in the 1960s Berlinale, which promoted stars and big productions. The emergence of the Forum section meant a different understanding of films. “It aims to expand the understanding of what film is, to test the boundaries of convention and open up fresh perspectives to help grasp cinema and how it relates to the world in new ways” (Berlinale, 2019). The Forum focuses more on films that revolutionize film medium and endow films with new features in society. Compared with the main competition sections, which were relatively conservative on film selection and favored narrative films, famous directors, and big stars, the Forum is more willing to challenge their audiences and refresh fans’ established understanding of the movie. Therefore, the Forum section contains more talented works from young directors, great directors’ innovations, excellent documentaries, experimental films, and animations, as well as films from periphery countries, or even some controversial films. However, while breaking the barriers of festivals’ film selection, the Forum adheres to the spirit “between barriers and ivory towers” and shoulders the mission of popularizing the history of world cinema and cultivating the taste of audiences. The Forum also organizes retrospective exhibitions of different themes every year, enabling the Berlin audiences to rediscover the epoch-making images of history.

For more than four decades, the Forum has discovered many world-renowned film masters. In 1973, Jacques Rivett’s Out 1: Spectre went down in history as the first film to screen four and a half hours at Berlinale and found its own audiences in Forum. Theodoros Angelopoulos’ first three feature films in his career were all displayed in this section. In 1988, Aki Kaurismäki’s Hamlet Goes Business and Béla Tarr’s Damnation were both screened in Forum, which was the first time that these two future masters came to the sight of the Big Three European film festivals. Kaurismäki also brought back another five films to the Forum after that. Japanese filmmaker Sino Sono became well-known and stepped onto the world stage from the Berlinale Forum. Since 1898, his four films, Bicycle Sighs, Heya: The Room, Love Exposure, I Am Sono Sion! were premiered in this section. The winner of the Palme d’Or at Cannes, Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan, and the winner of the Golden Lion at Venice, Filipino director Lav Diaz, both started from the Forum section at Berlinale. Ceylan’s debut The Small Town was internationally premiered in this section in 1998. Diaz’s second feature Naked Under the Moon was entered into the Forum section in 1999. The first American independent filmmaker Jeff Nichols’s debut drama Shotgun Stories was one of the biggest discoveries for the Forum in the last decade. Moreover, the “female version of Godard” Chantal Akerman, experimental image mogul Guy Martin, and Romanian New Currents master Corneliu Porumboiu were frequently welcomed in the Forum section.

At the same time, the forum section has an indissoluble bond with Chinese films. In 1991, Wang Jiawei’s second feature film “Days of Being Wild” was officially selected to the Forum section. And 1998 was a legendary year of the Forum: it not only found Ceylon’s debut The Small Town, but also enabled Jia Zhangke’s debut film Xiao Wu make a mark in the world film history. In 2000, the Forum selected Johnnie To’s three films, The Mission, Running Out of Time, and Where a Good Man Goes, and selected his Help!!!, Fulltime Killer, and PTU in the following three years. The Forum also discovered Johnnie To, who was only a Hong Kong commercial film director back then, and promoted him to the international stage and established his reputation as a world-class director. Liu Jiayin’s Oxhide(2005) and Hu Bo’s An Elephant Sitting Still witnessed the Forum’s long-term vision to the Chinese independent film.

In this year’s 69th Berlinale Forum section, there are four Chinese directors. Besides Zhang Lu’s Fukuoka and Zhu Xin’s Vanishing Days, director Wu Linfeng’s From Tomorrow on, I Will, co-directed by Serbian director Ivan Marković, and experimental animation director Lei Lei’s debut feature Breathless Animals were also selected in this section.

Since Zhang Lu’s first short film Eleven was selected to the competition at the Venice Film Festival in 2001, his films have been recognized by many international film festivals. The strong personal style in his works has also attracted the attention of Chinese fans. He had encountered the Berlin Film Festival twice: In 2007, his feature-length film Desert Dream was selected to the main competition at the 57th Berlin Film Festival; In 2010, his Dooman River was entered into the Generation section at the 60th Berlin Film Festival, and awarded the Crystal Bears. Since teaching in South Korea, Zhang Lu has constantly worked with Korean A-list actors and actresses, establishing long-term and in-depth cooperation with Park Hae-il, Moon Sori, Shin Min-a, and Ahn Sung-ki. His works, Gyeongju, A Quiet Dream, and Ode to the Goose were shortlisted at Locarno International Film Festival and the Busan International Film Festival, etc. As a Chinese director who was originally a novelist, his Korean films have not only received recognition in film festivals and Korean critics but struck a chord with Korean audiences. Each of his films did great business at the box office in Korean theaters. Gyeongju will arrive in Japanese theaters this April. As far as the creation itself is concerned, whether it is his relatively heavy narrative style in the early stage, or the relatively light love essays filmed in Korea, Zhang’s works always ruminate on nationality and national history. In the images of reality, fantasy, memories, and dreams intertwined, problems are constantly thrown, and answers are always looming, but this ambiguity just endows films a broad extension.

Fukuoka, which was selected in the Forum section, is another continuation and expansion of this aesthetics. The film was shot in South Korea and Japan. Protagonists Hae-hyo and Jea-moon were very good pals in college, both key members in the drama club, eventually going their separate ways after falling in love with the same girl. They have not seen or heard from each other ever since. As time passes and Jea-moon approaches middle age, the memory of his college life becomes ever more refreshed and begins to haunt him more and more frequently. At this moment, a strange girl, So-dam, not only intrudes into his quiet second-hand bookstore but also disturbs his life, urging him to set out on a long journey to Japan to look for Hae-Hyo. In Japan, when three of them finally meet in a local pub, can the problems of their past be reconciled? The film narratives mainly in Korean. These two actors both contributed excellent performance in Korean commercial films and art films. Yoon Je-moon cooperated with director Bong Joon-ho many times. Kwon Hae-Hyo starred in several director Hong Sang-soo’s films, which have been nominated in Cannes and Busan International Festivals. The main actress Park Su-dam starred in Zhang Lu’s Ode to the Goose, which was selected to the Gala Presentation at Busan International Festivals last year. She cooperates with Zhang Lu once again in this film. Meanwhile, Park will star in Bong Joon-ho’s new film Parasite, which will be the most anticipated Korean blockbuster in 2019.

Vanishing Days, as one of the films in this year’s Berlinale Forum section, is highly expected. The film is the debut feature of young director Zhu Xin, who was born in 1996 and graduated from the China Academy of Art. Zhang Xianmin, a professor at the Beijing Film Academy has approved this film after watching its rough cut, and put it into the list of the annual recommendation of ten new directors in his “A Personal Recommendation of Films of 2017.” He said that the film “is narrated in an unhurried manner with a wide background.” The film first met international audiences at the New Currents of Busan International Film Festival in 2018. Richard Brian, a film critic of Cine21, commented, “Zhu Xin’s feature film ‘Vanishing Days’ is novel, gentle, but complex, indicating the arrival of a unique rising star in Chinese film production.” Last November, at the Marrakech International Film Festival, the president of International Cinephile Society, Cédric Succivalli, praised this film as the best Chinese debut since Bi Gan’s Kaili Blues. He said that this 22-year-old director filmed “Proustian musings of a young Chinese girl…haunting Weerasethakulian sequences.” The film students from the Ecole Supérieure des Arts Visuels, after watching all the competition films in the Festival, gave their Best Film Award and Best Sound Award to Vanishing Days.

Vanishing Days tells a story on a stiflingly hot summer day in 2009, before a shower arrives in the southern Chinese city of Hangzhou. While 14-year-old girl Li Sen-lin lacks inspiration for her summer essay, Auntie Qiu, a long-absent relative and boat-woman reappears in her house and narrates an adventure of an uninhabited island. Li Senlin loses her turtle while her father is away on a business trip. There’s another “Senlin” that keeps on being mentioned by her parents. She faintly suspects that Auntie Qiu is actually her biological mother. The summer rain pours down as memory and reality interweave into one another. The water of the Great Canal dampens each individual that roams along it, and a red flag flaps still at the stern.

Vanishing Days looks like a girl’s summer diary, but Tao Zhen’s background music use its deep and low melody and electronic sound to remind us of the tension under the calm surface. Vanishing Days, with hidden doubts of childhood and bizarre imagination, is a path to suspense, a riddle far from solved, or a well-designed room escape game. Its rich texture and mysterious atmosphere attract audiences to peer through layers of texts, sneak into the inner texture, and merge into Hangzhou’s sticky summer and moist vapor. Through daily trivial, we can combine the story and fantasy to rethink death and growth.

Director Zhu Xin was brought up near the Grand Canal in Hangzhou. He hopes to use images to preserve the natural beauty of this fast-changing city. The elegance and real geographical space of Hangzhou are recombined in Vanishing Days. The characters go across the Huanglong Cave, turn over the Laohe mountain, and visit Qiandao Lake. Zhu Xin shot this film at the age of twenty when he had not received formal film training. He wanted to make a film as a child, without an adult’s perspectives and skills, before he forgot the world of childhood. Zhu Xin and scriptwriter Dai Ying built this poetic text. Vanishing Days in the early stage was independently completed by Zhu Xin and his partners in a movie interest group “Fresh Wood,” at a very low budget during the university. The main characters in the film were played by the amateurs selected from different backgrounds, which adds a true and natural texture to the film and expresses a strong Hangzhou atmosphere. Starring Jiang Li was only a 14-year-old girl at that time but showed a free and lively spirit in front of the camera with the other two non-professional actresses, Huang Jing and Chen Yan. The Cinematography of Zhang Wei and Wang Chenhao, the ethereal and mysterious music of Tao Zhen, and the production design of Chen Xinjialan and Jin Jiachen add more fantasies to Vanishing Days.

Acclaimed director Zhang Lu served as an art consultant for this film. Zhou Jialu, a teacher at the China Academy of Art, served as the film producer. She helped the director make this film, with three other producers Wang Jingyuan, Xia Yantao, Zhao Jin and Shen Zhen. The production of this film was completed in Thailand by the White Light Post, a production team which worked for the winner of Palme d’Or, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, and produced many outstanding films including Call Me by Your Name. The team upgraded the sounds and images of Vanishing Days to the next level. The film was made and produced by Midnight Blur Films and Midday Hill Films, with Hangzhou Chengying Co., Ltd. and a Korean company Lu Films.

Midnight Blur’s international distribution company PARALLAX Films deals with film festival submissions and international sales for Fukuoka and Vanishing Days.

Screening Schedule of “Fukuoka” at the Berlin International Film Festival

February 10 at 9:30, CinemaxX 6 (Media & Industry)
February 11 at 16:30, CineStar 8
February 13 at 22:00, Cubix 9
February 14 at 19:30, Zoo-Palast 2
February 16 at 21:30, CineStar 8

Screening Schedule of “Vanishing Days” at the Berlin International Film Festival

February 9 at 21:30, Zoo-Palast 2
February 10 at 19:30, CinemaxX 4
February 11 at 18:30, CinemaxX 6 (Media & Industry)
February 12 at 19:30, Colosseum 1
February 16 at 16:30, CineStar 8







在今年的第69届柏林国际电影节论坛单元中,有4位中国导演的身影,除了张律《福冈》和祝新《漫游》外,还有吴林峰导演和塞尔维亚导演Ivan Marković合作《春暖花开》以及实验动画导演雷磊长片处女作《Breathless Animals》。



入围本届柏林国际电影节论坛单元的《漫游》,出自1996年生中国美术学院毕业的祝新,让人颇为期待。北京电影学院张献民教授在看过此片初剪版本后,便给予影片肯定,将其列入2017一个人的影像推介年度新导演十荐,并称此片如此从容,铺排又很开阔。影片在2018年釜山国际电影节新浪潮单元第一次与国际观众见面,Cine21影评人理查德·布莱恩称赞道,祝新的剧情片《漫游》新奇,温柔又复杂,预示了中国电影制作的一颗独特新星的降临。去年11月,星光程度直逼戛纳的北非马拉喀什国际电影节期间,国际迷影协会主席Cédric Succivalli称赞《漫游》是继毕赣《路边野餐》之后最好的华语处女作,说祝新拍出了一个中国女孩的普鲁斯特式沉思,有着阿彼察邦式的悬疑。马拉喀什高等视觉艺术学院的电影专业同学,在看完电影节的全部竞赛影片后,把最佳影片最佳音效奖颁给了《漫游》。

《漫游》讲述了2009的夏天异常闷热,南方城市酝酿着一场阵雨。女孩李森林的暑假作文迟迟没有灵感,多年未曾蒙面的船工秋秋阿姨突然造访,她道出了那年荒岛上的奇遇。 父亲出差时,李森林丢失了他的乌龟,父母口中的森林却如影随影,李森林隐隐感觉这个阿姨也许才是她的亲生母亲。夏雷滚滚,记忆与现实逐渐交织,运河的水浸湿润这场漫游中的每一个人,有一面红旗却依旧在船尾飘扬。



著名导演张律担任本片的艺术顾问。中国美术学院教师周佳鹂作为本片监制,与三位制片人王靖渊、夏彦韬、赵晋以及策划沈真一起帮助导演完成了影片。影片后期则在泰国完成,由金棕榈得主阿彼察邦的后期团队White Light Post完成,曾制作《请以你的名字呼唤我》等片的这个团队,让《漫游》的声音和画面渐入臻境。《漫游》由午夜失焦 Midnight Blur、杭州午山影视公司制作及出品,杭州成影文化传播有限公司、 韩国 LuFilms 参与制作。

午夜失焦 Midnight Blur 旗下国际发行公司视幻文化 PARALLAX 负责《福冈》和《漫游》的电影节事务和国际销售。



210 9:30 CinemaxX 6(媒体与产业场)

21116:30 CineStar 8

213 22:00 Cubix 9 

214 19:30 Zoo-Palast 2

216 21:30 CineStar 8


29 21:30 Zoo-Palast 2

210 19:30 CinemaxX 4

211 18:30 CinemaxX 6 (媒体与产业场)

212 19:30 Colosseum 1

216 16:30 CineStar 8

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