Directors Lounge 2008 • Berlin, february 7-17

Saturday, February 16

China is Tired

(S.S.) Marina Foxley's second night of films from China took up the personal rather than the political. The first film, Night Bus, a love story about two people in side by side trains that feel a connection inspite of the isolating and alienating environment they must travel through. When they finally get off their respective busses and meet in person, the man is lame and short. He is so embarrassed that he starts to cry and the woman, who was crying on her bus earlier, cheers him up by making a funny face. The two walk off together into the artificially lit night. The idea of facade and the revelation that no one is perfect seems especially poignant for China right now, or for any country that is obsessed with expanding and gaining power. It is the small, naked intimate moments between imperfect people that makes living anywhere worthwhile. And no matter how perfect we pretend to be or strive to be, we will always have our shortcomings.

In the second film, Wanna Sleep, the modern world encroaches on two people who are exhausted by the pace of Shanghai life to the point where they can't even catch some z's. What is striking about this film, from my limited knowledge of Chinese domestic life, is just how normal everything looks. Laptops, big TV's, Ipods, futons, breakfast smoothies, bad Ikea lamps, and alarmcloks are everywhere. The isolation of modern living is evident with just a few key purchases. At the end of the film, the message from the filmmaker appears. THe translation reads something like, "Wanna sleep? The power to sleep is like the power to have a good life, it's in your hands." The message is that the speed of Shanghai can be resisted. You can choose to slow down and get some rest. A powerful message indeed as it is midnight in Berlin and I would like to rest myself! I will be back tomorrow with the last two films from Marina Foxley.