A BRWC Review – Jia Zhenke: A Guy From Fenyang

film reviews | movies | features | BRWC A BRWC Review -  Jia Zhenke: A Guy From Fenyang

Offering a one off insight into the mind of a film-maker; Brazilian director Walter Salle provides a unique window into the world and culture that provide the perspective and inspiration for trailblazing and politically progressive Chinese director Jia Zhangke.

Jia Zhangke is not a household name by any means, not even in his native China, Indeed, many of his films have been banned from being shown at all. Providing vital reflections on the transformation of Chinese society, politics and the Cultural Revolution Jia Zhangke is a transformative filmmaker. Jia Zhangke: A Guy from Fenyang is an invitation into the mind of this filmmaker and we’re taken on a journey through his back catalogue and his inspirations in what is a superb documentary.

Intelligent, restrained and affectionate; Walter Salle’s documentary could not be more different to the usual driven, intentioned and purposeful documentaries that dominate our screens. A Guy From Fenyang has none of the smug egotistical self-congratulation that often permeate from the usual portrayals of film directors and instead feels like you’ve been invited down the pub with Jia Zhangke and you’ve just happened to start chatting about his career. There are the unavoidable mentions of the brilliance of his art, but they feel genuine and unscripted. It doesn’t feel like this is the bulk or purpose of the piece. They feel much more organic than that, they feel real and inspiring. Walk Salle has done a fantastic job directing this film and the editing skills of Joana Collier have contributed to a beautiful piece. We see no inference to any questions directed towards Ji Zhangke and whilst some other participants are clearly being interviewed. Jia himself is simply giving us a tour of his home-town, his inspiration, his muse. Interceded with portions of his creations, there is a casual and comfortable pace to this film and I challenge anyone not to google Platform (2000) or Jia Zhangke once the film is done.



This is undoubtedly worth a watch. With interesting points for those who both know and don’t know the work of Jia Zhangke (I didn’t!), this is a valuable use of 90 mins and I wholeheartedly recommend it.


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Films, games, Godzilla and Scott Pilgrim; these are the things that Alex loves. As he tries to make use of the fact he’s always staring at a screen or in a book, you’ll hopefully be treated to some good reviews along the way (though he doesn’t promise anything).

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