What Chinese Films to See at Tribeca Film Festival, New Directors/New Films, and More

At the beginning of each month, CFI posts a comprehensive list of Chinese film screenings in NYC. To help you better understand China through cinema, we include films that are made by Chinese filmmakers, set in China, or tell Chinese stories. Here is what to see in April. 


Tribeca Film Festival (April 18-29)

A Still from ‘The Saint Bernard Syndicate’

The Saint Bernard Syndicate (Mads Brügger, 98 min, Denmark, 2018)

04/20- 04/25 at multiple venues

Rasmus has been given some dire news: He has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or A.L.S., and it won’t be long before his muscles give out. Fortunately, he’s just received an offer from an old boarding school acquaintance, Frederik, that’ll allow him to live life to the fullest, in his own awkward way. The duo head to China, with Rasmus as the primary investor and partner in Frederik’s scheme to sell Saint Bernard dogs as luxury items to the country’s middle class. The only catch: The world’s fastest-growing marketplace isn’t as easy to navigate as the two hapless Danes might have wished. Watch the trailer Here


A Still from ‘Yellow Is Forbidden’

Yellow Is Forbidden (Pietra Brettkelly, 94 min, New Zealand, 2018)

04/21- 04/28 at multiple venues

Recognition from Paris’s Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture is considered the apex of the fashion industry, and Chinese designer Guo Pei is determined to reach it. Watch the trailer Here

A Still from ‘Ghostbox Cowboy’

Ghostbox Cowboy (John Maringouin, 120 min, China /USA, 2018)

04/19-04/25 at multiple venues

In this darkly comedic morality tale, tech entrepreneur Jimmy Van Horn arrives in China armed with an invention and confidence, only to learn that being American is not enough to succeed. 

A Still from ‘Bao’

Bao (Domee Shi, 8 min, USA, 2018)

04/21- 04/28 at multiple venues

An empty-nesting Chinese mom gets another chance at motherhood when one of her dumplings springs to life. But she must come to terms with the bittersweet revelation that nothing stays cute and small forever.

The Girl and The Picture (Vanessa Roth, 39 min, China & USA, 2018)

04/27 at Cinépolis Chelsea 3

In 1937, 8-year-old Xia Shuqin witnessed the murder of her family in the horror that would become known as the Nanjing Massacre. Madame Xia, now 88, shares her legacy of family, loss and survival.

02:09 (4 min, China /Sweden, 2018)

04/21- 04/28 at Tribeca Festival Hub

In three minutes, the world will end. The rich have already left Earth for the New Colonies; those who couldn’t afford private shuttles into orbit remain stranded, like the now-worthless banknotes on the streets. A couple wait together on a rooftop, contemplating their fate, while, in front of them, the last human refugees leave the planet before it is too late.


A Still from ‘Chalkroom’

Chalkroom (Laurie Anderson and Hsin-Chien Huang, 20 min, Taiwan/ USA, 2018)

04/20- 04/28 at Tribeca Festival Hub, 5th Floor

The Chalkroom is a virtual reality work by celebrated artist Laurie Anderson and Hsin-Chien Huang in which the reader—the viewer—flies through an enormous structure made of words, drawings, and stories. Inside the experience, the reader is free to roam and fly, while words sail through the air like emails, fall into dust, and form and reform.

2018 New Directors/New Films

A Still from ‘An Elephant Sitting Still’

An Elephant Sitting Still (Hu Bo, 234 min, China, 2018)

04/08 at MoMA Titus 2 – Walter Reade Theater   

Sure to be remembered as a landmark in Chinese cinema, this intensely felt epic marks a career cut tragically short: its debut director Hu Bo took his own life last October, at the age of 29. The protagonist of this modern reworking of the tale of Jason and the Argonauts is teenage Wei Bu, who critically injures a school bully by accident. Over a single, eventful day, he crosses paths with a classmate, an elderly neighbor, and the bully’s older brother, all of them bearing their own individual burdens, and all drawn as if by gravity to the city of Manzhouli, where a mythical elephant is said to sit, indifferent to a cruel world. Full of moody close-ups and virtuosic tracking shots, An Elephant Sitting Still is nothing short of a masterpiece.

A Still from ‘The Great Buddha +’

The Great Buddha + (Huang Hsin-yao, 104 min, Taiwan, 2017)

04/03- 04/04 at MoMA Titus 2 – Walter Reade Theater   

Provincial friends Pickle and Belly Button idle away their nights in the security booth of a Buddha statue factory, where Pickle works as a guard. One evening, when the TV is on the fritz, they put on video from the boss’s dashcam—only to discover illicit trysts and a mysterious act of violence. Expanded from a short, Huang Hsin-yao’s fiction feature debut The Great Buddha + (the plus sign cheekily nodding to the smartphone model) is a stylish, rip-roaring satire on class and corruption in contemporary Taiwanese society. A Cheng Cheng Films release. Watch the trailer Here

Recommended ReadingFilm Review: The Great Buddha+By David Noh


New Releases:

A Still from ‘Big Fish & Begonia’

Big Fish & Begonia 大鱼海棠 (Liang Xuan and Chun Zhang, 105 min, China, 2016)

Opens on 04/06 at Regal Union Square Stadium 14

It is a world within our world, yet unseen by any human, and the beings here control time and tide and the changing of the seasons. On the day Chun turns sixteen, she is transformed into a dolphin to explore the human world. She is rescued from a vortex by a human boy at the cost of his own life. Chun is so moved by the boy’s kindness and courage that she decides to give him life again. But to do this, she must protect the boy’s soul, a tiny fish, and nurture it to grow. Through adventure and sacrifice, love grows, yet now she must release him back to the sea, back to life in the human world. Watch the trailer Here.


A Still from ‘Pandas’

Pandas (Drew Fellman and David Douglas, 40 min, USA, 2018)

Opens on 04/06 at AMC Empire 25

An American biologist embarks on a life-changing journey to China to help scientists breed giant pandas and introduce the cubs into the wild. Watch the trailer Here


Still in Theater:

A Still from ‘The China Hustle’

The China Hustle (Jed Rothstein, 82 min, USA, 2017)

Opened on 03/23 at Landmark at 57 West and IFC Center

In the midst of the 2008 market crash, investors on the fringes of the financial world feverishly sought new alternatives for high-return investments in the global markets. With Chinese indexes demonstrating explosive growth, the country suddenly emerged as a gold rush opportunity with one caveat: US investors were prohibited from investing directly into the country’s market. Makeshift solutions led to a market frenzy, until one investor discovered the massive web of fraud left in its wake. Jed Rothstein’s documentary rings the alarm on the need for transparency in an increasingly deregulated financial world by following those working to uncover the biggest heist you’ve never heard of. Watch the trailer Here


Taivalu (80 mins., 2010) and The Great Buddha (24 mins., 2014)

Screening and Discussion with Director Huang Hsin-Yao

April 3, 2018   12:30 PM — 3:15 PM

Room 108, Tisch School of the Arts, 721 Broadway

Director Huang Hsin-Yao presents a screening of his 2010 documentary Taivalu and his acclaimed short film The Great Buddha.

After a major flooding disaster caused by Typhoon Morakot in Taiwan the director visited Tuvalu, the first island nation to be submerged by the oceans once the sea level rises due to global warming. The filming process for Taivalu encountered a succession of unexpected events.

Huang’s latest work The Great Buddha+ (2017) has been hailed as “…a memorable debut from an uncompromising new voice in Taiwanese cinema.” See the short film that inspired the brilliant and hilarious Taiwanese satirical comedy that has been awarded at Taiwan Golden Horse Awards, Toronto International Film Festival, and Asian Film Awards, and will be screened as part of the Museum of Modern Art’s New Directors/New Films series.

Screenings followed by a discussion with the director, moderated by Professor Zhen Zhang (Cinema Studies, NYU). Co-sponsored by Fourth Wall International Cinema Salon.

Free and open to the NYU Community. NYU ID required.


Transforming the Liminal Hero: Border-crossing Interconnections in The Taking of the Tiger Mountain (2014) and Its Textual Pedigree

A talk by Zhuoyi Wang

April 26, 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Room 670, Department of Cinema Studies, Tisch School of the Arts

721 Broadway, 6th Floor

Known as a Hong Kong director of action-filled and visually spectacular blockbusters, Tsui Hark made a seemingly surprising move in 2014 and shot a 3D remake of the 1970 Maoist revolutionary opera film Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy in mainland China. Existing scholarship tends to see the remake as merely a reflection of the close marriage between politics and commerce in contemporary Chinese cinema.

This talk offers a more nuanced perspective on the remake, revealing how its deep historical dimension generated complexity and subtlety in Tsui’s approach. Rather than just commercially packaging and disseminating current state ideology, the remake reflects Tsui’s long-term personal and artistic navigation across multiple national and ideological borders. It embodies Tsui’s signature way of constructing alluring cinematic shapes for a liminal “Chineseness” that lacks substantial reference, consistency, and clear origin. Precisely for this void, the remake may resonate with a diverse range of Chinese cultural, political, and ethnic subjects.

Presented by the Asian Film and Media Initiative. Free and open to the public.


A Still from ‘2046’

2046 (WONG KAR-WAI, 129 min, Hong Kong, 2004)

04/02 at Metrograph

The sort-of sequel to Wong’s Days of Being Wild and In the Mood for Love centers on Tony Leung Chiu-wai’s science-fiction writer Chow, chronicling his aimless affairs with women (including Faye Wong, Zhang Ziyi, and Gong Li) after Mrs. Chen has disappeared from his life.


A Still from ‘Chasing the Dragon’

Chasing the Dragon (Jason Kwan and Jing Wong, 128 min, Hong Kong, 2017)

04/06 at Museum of the Moving Image – Bartos Screening Room 

Donnie Yen stars as infamous real-life drug kingpin Crippled Ho, who came to Hong Kong an illegal immigrant in 1963 and ruthlessly carved an empire from the chaotic underworld of drug dealers and corrupt police that ruled the city under notorious detective Lee Rock (Lau).


A Still from ‘Abacus: Small Enough to Jail’

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

04/20 at Museum of Chinese in America

Founded in 1984, Abacus Federal Savings Bank (國寶銀行) is one of the banks in New York City’s Chinatown that serve the Chinese immigrant community. In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, it became the only U.S. bank to face criminal charges.


A Still from ‘Maineland’

Maineland (Miao Wang, 90 min, USA, 2018)

04/27 at Museum of the Moving Image – Bartos Screening Room

With director Miao Wang in person

Dir. Miao Wang. 2017, 90 mins. Digital projection. Filmed over three years in China and the United States, acclaimed director Miao Wang presents a multi-layered coming-of-age tale that follows two affluent and cosmopolitan teenagers as they settle into a boarding school in blue-collar rural Maine. Part of the enormous wave of “parachute students” from China enrolling in U.S. private schools, bubbly, fun-loving Stella and introspective Harry come seeking a Western-style education and Hollywoodized high school experience. As they encounter homesickness and a more nuanced understanding of the American dream, Wang and ace cinematographer Sean Price Williams let the camera fully register those complications, steering clear of simplified portraiture to instead fashion a film as exploratory and sensitive as that of their brave and tentative young subjects.