Your Ultimate Guide to Chinese Film Screenings for November in NYC

At the beginning of each month, CFI posts a comprehensive list of Chinese film screenings in NYC. Here is what to see in November. 


Hua International Short Film Festival

11/11 at Asian Cultural Center

A Still from ‘Still Tomorrow’

Still Tomorrow 摇摇晃晃的人间 (Dir.Fan Jian, 88 min, China, 2016)

Still Tomorrow portraits the life of Yu Xiuhua, a rebellious woman in rural China, who became a nationally recognized poet after her bold poems went viral on social media. The film follows Yu’s breakthrough and sufferings in a conservative society that degrades women, bullies the weak, and shames the rebellious. Since its debut, Still Tomorrow has been chosen into many film festivals, including IDFA 2016, HotDocs 2017, and Sheffield Doc Fest 2017. Director in attendance. Watch the trailer HERE.


A Still from ‘Abacus: Small Enough to Jail’

Abacus: Small Enough to Jail (Dir. Steve James, 88 min, USA, 2016)

11/12 at IFC Center | 11/15 at Cinepolis Chelsea

Abacus Federal Savings Bank is a modest institution of New York’s Chinatown that came under harsh prosecution in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. While other banks were considered ‘too big to fail,’ Abacus was ‘small enough to jail.’ Filmmaker Steve James follows the bank’s founder Thomas Sung and his family as they fight back in court against Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance, Jr. in an effort to redeem their name and to dispel biases against Chinatown. Expected to Attend: Producers Mark Mitten, Julie Goldman (Nov 12 only); film subjects members of the Sung Family, Matt Taibbi (Nov 12 only). Watch the trailer HERE.




A Still from ‘The Jade Pendant’

New Releases:

The Jade Pendant’ 1871 唐人街 (Dir. Po-Chih Leong, 106 min, Hong Kong/USA, 2017)

Opens on 11/03 at AMC Empire 25

Fleeing an arranged marriage in China, the independent Peony signs a contract to work as a “flower girl” in America, where she meets Tom, an American Born Chinese cook whose father works on the Transcontinental Railroad. Thwarted by a Hong Kong Triad boss seeking to extend his power into America, theirs is the tale of the first great Chinese immigration to the United States – a story of romance, bigotry, passion, food and a search for everlasting love – set against the largest mass lynching in American history, in Los Angeles’ Chinatown, in 1871. Watch the trailer HERE.

Explosion‘ 引爆者 (Dir. Chang Zheng, 100 min, China, 2017)

Opens on 11/24 at AMC Empire 25

A blast technician (Duan Yihong) in a mining town survives an explosion only to discover it may not have been an accident. While investigating the truth, he becomes the prime suspect and must use his unique skillset to clear his name. Watch the trailer HERE.

Still in Theater:

‘The Foreigner’  英伦对决 (Dir. Martin Campbell, 116 min, China/UK, 2017)

Opened on 10/12 at AMC 

A humble businessman with a buried past seeks justice when his daughter is killed in an act of terrorism. A cat-and-mouse conflict ensues with a government official, whose past may hold clues to the killers’ identities. The film, starring Jackie Chan and Pierce Brosnan, is a timely action thriller from the director of ‘Casino Royale.’ Watch the trailer HERE.

Recommended ReadingFilm Review: ‘The Foreigner’By Daniel Eagan

‘Daughter of the Nile’  尼罗河女儿 (Dir. Hou Hsiao-hsien, 91 min, Taiwan, 1987)

Opened 10/27 at Quad Cinema

Hou Hsiao-hsien returns to the terrain of contemporary youth as pop star Yang Lin playing a teenager who escapes her fraught family situation into the fantasy world of a Japanese comic book about a female time traveler in ancient Egypt who falls in love with a pharoah—echoing her own infatuation with her brother’s gigolo associate. An artfully subdued and unostentatiously refined portrait of nocturnal teenage anomie by one of cinema’s giants. Watch the trailer HERE.



Film Screening and Discussion: ‘Above the Drowning Sea’ (Dir. René Balcer & Nicola Zavaglia, 88 min, USA, 2017)

11/08 at Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts

Above the Drowning Sea tells the story of the dramatic escape of European Jews from Nazi-controlled Europe to Shanghai on the eve of World War II. Jewish refugees and the Chinese residents of Shanghai who helped them survive in China recount their experiences, terrors and deprivations as well as the remarkable friendships forged across cultures, friendships that survive to this day. Free Admission. RSVP Required. Watch the trailer HERE.

Free Documentary Screenings: ‘Tie Xi Qu: West of the Tracks’ (Dir. Wang Bing, China, 2003)

11/11 at 349 5th Ave.

Tie Xi Qu: West of the Tracks was filmed over the course of two years between 1999 and 2001 and details the slow decline of Shenyang’s industrial Tiexi district, an area that was once a vibrant example of China’s socialist economy. The third part, “Rails” will be screened. It narrows its focus to a single father and son who scavenge the rail yards in order to sell raw parts to the factories. With the factories closing however, their future suddenly becomes uncertain. RSVP required. More info.

Free Documentary Screening: ‘Fortune Teller’ (Dir. Xu Tong, 132 min, China, 2009)

11/12 at 349 5th Ave.

Li Baicheng is a charismatic fortune teller who services a clientele of prostitutes and marginalized figures whose jobs, like his, are commonplace but technically illegal in China. RSVP required. More info.

Film Screenings and Discussions: ‘China Crossings: Ethnographic Film In and Of China’ 

11/11 at NYU Tisch School

A day of screenings and conversation that brings together anthropologists, film scholars, and filmmakers whose work and practice are integral to thinking about ethnographic film in and of China today. Co-sponsored by NYU’s Center for Religion and Media and the Asian Film & Media Initiative in the Department of Cinema Studies. Free and open to the public.

Documentary Series: ‘Turn It On: China On Film 2000-2017′

Through 01/04, 2018 at The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

‘In Search of Lin Zhao’s Soul’ 寻找林昭的灵魂 (Dir. Hu Jie, 116 min, China, 2004)

In this era of red terror, Lin Zhao, a student at Peking University, went from being an innocent follower to a fearless critic of the Communist Party. This film pieces together Lin’s life, her path of resistance, and her death in Shanghai in 1968.

A Still from ‘Readymade’

‘Readymade’ 现成品 (Dir. Zhang Bingjian, 79 min, China, 2009)

Mao Zedong died in 1976, but his impersonators are alive and well. This film documents the lives of two people who resemble Mao and assume Mao roles.

‘When the Bough Breaks’ 危巢 (Dir. Ji Dan, 110 min, China, 2013)

Not long ago, Beijing’s Daxing District was covered with landfills from which neighboring scavengers eked a living. With the rapid construction of urban development across Beijing, the landfills have been covered over with the bright lights of the expanding city. Only one rickety shack still stands against the vagaries of so much change.


A Still From ‘A Bright Summer Day’

Film Series: ‘The Non-actor’

Opens on Nov.24 at The Film Society of Lincoln Center

Questions concerning “the real” have haunted cinema from its inception, and they have often been entwined with performance. This series is a historical survey of the myriad ways in which filmmakers have used so-called amateurs to reimagine the language of cinema and to investigate (and perhaps fundamentally change) the medium’s relationship with the realities it depicts.

A Brighter Summer Day‘ 牯岭街少年杀人事件 (Dir. Edward Yang, 237 min, Taiwan, 1991)

A deeply personal epic comparable in scope and impact to the Godfather movies and Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in America, Yang’s extraordinary memory film stretches tautly over four hours of screen time and more than 100 speaking parts. Few movies more readily call to mind the great, sprawling novels of the 19th century and their portraits of ordinary individuals caught in the maelstrom of a changing society. Go behind the scenes of the new 4K restoration HERE.

Oxhide‘ 牛皮 (Dir. Liu Jiayin, 105min, China, 2005)

In Liu Jiayin’s first film, over the course of 23 carefully choreographed shots, we watch the young filmmaker, her parents, and their cat act out a thinly fictionalized version of the life they share in a cramped Beijing apartment, where her father makes leather handbags. Watch the clip HERE.


Film Screening & Discussion: ‘We The Workers’ (Dir. Huang Wenhai, 173 min, China, 2017)

Wednesday, Nov. 29 at 325 Hudson St

This film features workers from different provinces spanning two generations who have resisted this force through activist struggle and action. Director Wen Hai will lead a discussion of the themes of te film and exploration of their connection with the struggles of workers in the United States from 4:30-5:30, followed by a screening of the documentary from 5:30-8:30. Free screening.