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Festival Genius: MFF announces Passport Program

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012 by

Milwaukee Film Festival announced recently the focus of their Passport Program, Chinese films!  Passport: China will spotlight eight films— both documentary and fiction— made by both Chinese and foreign filmmakers. All are set in mainland China, and explore a number of historical and contemporary themes.

Also featured will be a panel discussion on “Chinese Cinema in a Transnational Frame” with keynote speaker Dr. Jennifer Feeley (University of Iowa), moderated by Dr. Jian Xu (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee).

Here’s the official line-up (click the title to watch the trailer):

11 Flowers

Set in 1975, in the final days of China’s Cultural Revolution, this moving film tells the story of an 11-year-old boy in the countryside and his strange encounter with a fugitive from the law. Acclaimed director Wang Xiaoshuai’s (Shanghai DreamsBeijing Bicycle) film 11 Flowers is based upon his personal experiences during that era.

China Heavyweight

In central China, a Master coach recruits poor rural teenagers and turns them into Western-style boxing champions. The top students face dramatic choices as they graduate—should they fight for the collective good, or for themselves? Celebrated director Yung Chang (Up the Yangtze) brings us this riveting sports documentary filled with astute social commentary.

High Tech, Low Life

An award-winning documentary following the journey of two of China’s first citizen reporters as they travel the country, chronicling under-reported news and social issues stories. Armed with laptops, cell phones, and digital cameras, they develop skills as independent one-man news stations while learning to navigate China’s evolving censorship regulations and avoiding the risk of political persecution.

Let the Bullets Fly

A masterful action-filled comedy (and China’s highest-grossing domestic film of all time) set in 1920′s China as corrupt government officials and marauding gangs of bandits run rampant. Hyper-intelligent Pocky Zhang and his much feared Mah-jongg Gang execute a routine train robbery, but instead of finding material riches, Zhang finds a con-man who promises something much more valuable. This leads to an escalating series of ultra-violent (and often hilarious) mind-games, with the stakes quickly rising to ludicrous proportions as Hong Kong action legend Chow Yun-fat enters the fray as a conniving crime lord.

Old Dog

This poetic story about contemporary Tibet’s changing society combines equal parts melancholy and humor to tell the tale of a family on the Himalayan plains who face a series of personal challenges amidst a few unfortunate separations from their very valuable dog. Director Pema Tseden is considered the leading filmmaker of the recently-emerging New Tibetan Cinema.

Romancing in Thin Air

After a public break-up and humiliation, a famous actor ends up in the middle of Yunnan province at a small inn and begins to fall for the inn’s proprietor, who herself is recovering from a loss. Milwaukee Film Festival favorite Johnnie To (Vengeance, 2010; Don’t Go Breaking My Heart, 2011) returns with this high concept romantic comedy starring two of Hong Kong cinema’s biggest stars Louis Koo and Sammi Cheng.


Written and directed by master filmmaker Chen Kaige (Farewell My Concubine), Sacrifice is a tale of Shakespearean proportions focusing on a newborn prince whose entire family is wiped out by a rival general who ruthlessly seizes the throne. The doctor who delivers the young prince does everything he can to save this last young survivor of the bloodline, and secretly raises him until he’s old enough to participate in a plot for revenge.

The Milwaukee Film Festival runs from September 27, 2012 – October 11, 2012.  For more information visit the festival webpage.

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