New York Cinephile Club | “Ash Is Purest White” Opens in New York on Friday

Cinephile Club

The article was originally posted on CineClub18 with 616 views
Jiexiao Ying 2019.03.12
Translated by Lan Lin 2019

The Beginning of New York Cinephile Club

I started studying film at New York University two years ago. During my time at school, I pondered about my passion and hobbies, and what I could offer to society. Soon I realized my ambition goes beyond writing movie reviews, I also want to deliver good films to a bigger audience they deserve and vice versa.

As a Chinese New Yorker, I especially care about using film as a medium to give Chinese expats a channel to share their experiences, and help them find a spiritual home as cinephiles.

This account was named “Independent Film Launch Tower” at the very beginning. Later, I cited Lu Xun, a prestigious Chinese author’s work “Hot Wind 41” and renamed this account as “The Firefly Lighter”, with a mission to spread quality Chinese indie films.

From March to April, a selection of excellent Chinese art films will open in North America, including the much anticipated Ash is Purest White from Jia Zhangke and Long Day’s Journey Into Night from Bi Gan. After a long internship as a film distributor, I am honored to become the promotion head of Chinese community for Ash is Purest White and Long Day’s Journey Into Night, while paying close attention to the other ones——An Elephant Sitting Still and Suburban Birds. Through this opportunity, I am pursuing my dream step by step.

A few days ago, I established the “New York Cinephile Club” WeChat group for New York moviegoers. In this group chat, I update movie news and provide group discount tickets and giveaways. I hope this small lighthouse can attract Chinese diasporas who are eager to connect. Despite all the hustles in New York, and no matter where opportunities lead us, may we always reunite in the name of cinema.

What could be more romantic than film watching? Whenever the silver screen in dark draws us into another dimension, a unique experience slips through different channels of our lives. We chuckle at moments of life we see in the films, and we become emotional because of those special scenes that artistically resemble our lives. We are comforted when those inner emotions are romantically expressed by authors and auteurs.

I hope to spread this kind of romance to more souls.

Ash Is Purest White Opens in NYC

Ash Is Purest White will premiere in NYC cinemas this Friday, March 22.

The premiere event is important for us: this Friday, Jia Zhangke’s new film Ash is Purest White will hit the cinemas in New York. I look forward to bringing everyone to watch this movie.

In an interview at the New York Film Festival last year, Jia said he picked the name Ash is Purest White because he heard it was the title of the last film Fei Mu wanted to shoot. Although this story has nothing to do with that title, Jia is just fascinated by the phrase. Jianghu, which loosely translates to “the criminal underworld”, is a concept in China that doesn’t need any explanation and cannot be well explained.

When Jia was a child, he was captivated by the Jianghu stories. Those Jianghu characters left him a deep impression because they showed strong emotions and compelling stories. Jia also had a street life when he was around seven or eight years old. When the roaming teenagers fought, he was responsible for delivering bricks and stones. Jianghu films were also Jia’s favorite film back in the 80s, he often watches it at a video store. From Hu Jinquan’s Ming Dynasty, Zhang Che’s Qing Dynasty, to Wu Yusen’s Hong Kong in the 80s 90s, Jianghu stories are a reflection of people’s rebellion under turbulent periods.

As time goes by, the criminal underworld has changed. Nowadays, there are still gangster brothers helping each other out, but the task to fight is agented by a company. Sometimes one party calls the company for thugs, and the other party calls as well, the thugs would end the fight quickly with a few pushes since they work for the same place. When I was young, the gangsters in Hong Kong cinema used to say the criminal underworld needs corporate reform. Jia now feels the weight of the word.

Jia said, Ash is Purest White is a movie about how a person is changed by time. His past works focused on how changes in life and time may bring new sensation and new statuses, such as the loneliness from Xiaowu and the enthusiasm for freedom in Platform“. But this time, he shoots a story about relationships in the criminal underworld, a concept rooted in the hearts of Chinese people, to see how those relations change over the course of time and understand the deepest bits of emotions.

Here is an anecdote about the film title: Jia likes the ancient meaning of the word Jianghu, but his colleagues advised him to give up this name since the film has a modern setting and Jianghu resembles a sense of a period film, which is not a popular genre in China. However, they can’t talk him over it, so they requested Jia to think carefully for the English title. Jia proposed “Money and Love. He likes the shaggy and rustic feeling of it, but others wanted the title to be more literary, so Jia thought of the scene where characters walk before the volcano. They said after high-temperature burning, the volcanic ash is the purest, and there comes the English title “Ash is Purest White”.

Note: The above content comes from my notes at Jia Zhangke’s talk at last year’s New York Film Festival. The Los Angeles Chinese Film and Television Alliance has published a more detailed piece on the director’s interpretation and director interview.

Film Info

Ash Is Purest White

A film by Jia Zhangke
2018 / China • France / Drama / 141 minutes
Plot summary: Qiaoqiao fell in love with brother Bin, a street gang leader. In a street rush, she opened fire to protect brother Bin, and was later sentenced to a five-year term in prison. After Qiaoqiao is released, she wants to find her old lover and start a new life.
Ash is Purest White will open in North American cinemas on March 15.
For ticket information, please visit each theaters’ official websites.

New York

Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center
(165 W 65th St, New York, NY 10023)

Quad Cinema
(34 W 13th St, New York, NY 10011)

Los Angeles

Laemmle Monica
Arclight Hollywood

San Francisco

Landmark Embarcadero
Landmark Shattuck
Smith Rafael Film Center

Join the New York Cinephile Club

Whether it’s your first time visiting Jia Zhangke’s Ash is Purest White, or have already experienced it at the New York Film Festival, you are welcome to join the “New York Cinephile Club” WeChat group. Come learn about the latest films and watch together! We will discuss the time for watching in the group chat, you will receive a discounted group ticket, have a round table discussion, and receive actress Zhao Tao’s memes!

If you are interested in art films like Ash is Purest White and live in New York, please feel free to add me on WeChat (Vivian_afro), note “Cinephile Club- Name – City – School / Work”, I will invite you to join the “New York Cinephile Club” WeChat group.

PS: If you are not in New York, I will invite you to join the “North American Cinephile Club.” maybe you can find a local cinephile organization there, such as “Xiaoxuaner’s Toronto Cinephile Club” (Owner Xiao Xuaner: xuanyi0415), “Chinese in Entertainment” (WeChat ID: CIELosAngeles).

Repost Reward:

Before noon on March 15th, comment below to tell me your ideal screening event and repost this article to your WeChat Moments. The person whose comment has the most likes will be rewarded with a signed poster of Ash is Purest White by Jia Zhangke (New York City only).

纽约观影团 |《江湖儿女》圆桌谈(3.22新增上映城市)


两年前开始在纽约大学读电影研究,认真琢磨起自己的爱好和社会上的功能。 我发现自己的志向不仅是分析电影,而是希望让好的电影能抵达观众。作为一个纽约客,我尤其在意通过电影的媒介,给海外漂泊浪游者一个共享经验的时刻,在迷影的氛围里找到自己的精神家园。










起名轶事:科长喜欢江湖这个词带有的古义。同事说明明是个现代故事,别用江湖,古装不好卖,但拗不过科长,问英文名能不能好好想想。科长说,Money and Love,喜欢的就是这种粗野感,不得已要改得文雅,想到江湖儿女们走到火山前的一场戏,说起经历高温燃烧,火山灰才是最纯净的:Ash is Purest White。

注:以上内容来自我去年在纽约电影节(New York Film Festival)听贾樟柯访谈的个人笔记,“洛杉矶华语影视联盟”的推文有更详细的导演阐释和导演访谈。

贾樟柯 导演作品



Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center

(165 W 65th St, New York, NY 10023)

Quad Cinema

(34 W 13th St, New York, NY 10011)


Laemmle Monica

Arclight Hollywood


Landmark Embarcadero

Landmark Shattuck

Smith Rafael Film Center





PS:如果你不在纽约,我会邀请你加入“北美观影团”,也许能为你找到当地的影迷组织,例如加拿大多伦多的小玄儿观影团(群主小玄儿:xuanyi0415),洛杉矶华语影视联盟(WeChat ID: CIELosAngeles)。

群主:应婕晓 Vivian WeChat:Vivian_afro

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