A Quick Guide to the Chinese Films Going to the 2019 Cannes Festival

Diao Yinan’s follow up to the Berlin Golden Bear-winning ‘Black Coal, Thin Ice’ will compete for this year’s Palme d’Or.

A Still from ‘Wild Goose Lake’

Chinese cinema has something of a rocky relationship with the Cannes Film Festival. On the one hand, the key film event has been fairly consistent in its support of movies from the country since A Touch of Zen became the first Chinese work to be officially screened there in 1975. On the other hand, it has provided a platform for works that the Chinese authorities have been less-than-pleased about; an interesting heir of sorts to that first entry, Jia Zhangke’s A Touch of Sin, screened at Cannes in 2013 but could not secure a release in China. And even Farewell My Concubine experienced difficulties with the censors despite becoming China’s first Palme d’Or winner in 1993.

Such issues prompted Variety to question recently whether the Chinese films announced for 2019’s event will necessarily make it to France: “[The films] appear to have received the necessary official approvals from Chinese authorities to premiere overseas. But their journey to the Cote d’Azur is by no means a certainty.”

Before we get to the films from mainland China headed to the southern French coast, a quick mention of what might just be the most interesting Mandarin-language project at Cannes this year: Midi Z’s Nina Wu. This Taiwanese flick from the Myanmar-born director is a “psychological thriller” based on the Harvey Weinstein scandal which sparked the #MeToo movement. Here’s hoping the nod from Cannes’ programmers, plus the language used, will see it get some traction in China (though we won’t be holding our breath for a cinematic release here).

Here are the Chinese films appearing at Cannes 2019:

The Wild Goose Lake – Diao Yinan

In the running for the Palme d’Or, this movie is director Diao Yinan’s follow up to the Berlin Golden Bear-winning, noirish Black Coal, Thin Ice.

According to Variety the new film, “centers on the leader of a dangerous biker gang on the run who meets a woman willing to give everything to get her freedom back. Both in a dead end, they decide to play one last time and gamble their destiny at a train station in South China.”

And in case that doesn’t sound dark and moody enough, here’s the poster to really hammer those themes home:

Continue to read the following films introductions on RADII.


– This article originally appeared on radiichina.com.