Command Performance: VMFA Presents Chinese Film at the Byrd

2014-11_Film-Red-Sorghum_FSSMIt’s difficult to know where to start when delineating the reasons to see Zhang Yimou’s Red Sorghum (1987; 91 min) at the Byrd Theatre on November 23 at 1:30 pm. The film has an almost mythic reputation.

But I will try.

  • The Byrd Theatre will be the only venue in the entire US that has shown this amazing movie on a big theatrical screen with English subtitles.
  • Red Sorghum hasn’t even been released on DVD in the US.
  • Red Sorghum is based on Nobel Prize laureate Mo Yan’s 1987 novel, Hong gaoliang jiazu or Red Sorghum Clan.
  • Red Sorghum won the Golden Bear (Best Film) at the 1988 Berlin Film Festival.
  • Red Sorghum introduced a stunning talent Gong Li and catapulted her to world-class fame.
  • Zhang Yimou is the best known of the fabled “5th Generation” of graduates from the Beijing Film Academy.
  • Zhang Yimou made his first directorial effort with Red Sorghum which so vividly shows off his brilliant cinematographic skills.
  • Since his directorial debut, Zhang Yimou has consistently captivated cineastes with his major critical and commercial successes: Ju Dou (1990), Raise the Red Lantern (1991), The Road Home (1999), Hero (2002), House of Flying Daggers (2004), and The Flowers of War (2011, with Christian Bale.)
  • As a pièce de résistance, Zhang created the jaw-dropping 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics opening and closing ceremonies.
  • VMFA has been granted one-time-only, exclusive rights from the Xi’an Film Studio to show a DCP transfer of a 35mm print made by the China Film Archive. (VMFA is so grateful to both of them.)

How’d I do?

I hope all of these reasons (and trust me, there are many more!) makes you come and see Red Sorghum now!

 –Trent Nicholas, VMFA Film Programmer