Three 20-something buddies drift like free-spirits through Chengdu, Sichuan: Nan Feng, a gorgeous and fearlessly feisty bar singer (played by Chinese superstar Fan Bingbing), and her two admirers, bike delivery guy Ding Bo (heartthrob Taiwanese idol Chen Bo-lin) and roly-poly Fei Zao (played by Fei Long). When Nan Feng accidentally assaults a well-connected bar patron, the three need to find not only compensation money but also a new place to live. They find the apartment of Chang Yueqin, a retired but agelessly elegant Beijing opera performer (the great Taiwanese actress and director Sylvia Chang, in one of the best performances of her impressive career). Life styles and generations clash: Yueqin tries to impose discipline on the youths, and they in turn mock her old-fashioned harshness. When their reckless violation of her privacy exposes Yueqin’s hidden sorrows, the four learn to accommodate their differences, then how to offer emotional and ultimately spiritual support.
Since Li Yu’s debut film Fish and Elephant (VIFF 01), she has developed a unique space in Chinese cinema, one where a commercially viable independent art film can thrive. Buddha Mountain is a rare film that speaks to Chinese ticket-paying audiences as well as international festival goers (and won two awards at the 2010 Tokyo International Film Festival). Terrific performances, especially by the women, vitalize this unpredictable comedy/drama/tragedy. Chang is glorious; Fan Bingbing shows herself capable of impressive acting in the right director’s hands. Li Yu’s style is free, vibrantly alive, with a heightened, expressive naturalism perfectly in tune with her film’s buoyant spirit. –VIFF
Li Yu (Chinese: 李玉; pinyin: Lǐ Yù) (born December 2, 1973) is a female Chinese film director and screenwriter. Li began her career in entertainment at a young age, serving as a presenter at a local TV station. After college she worked for CCTV where she directed television programs before moving onto documentaries and, eventually, feature films. Her feature film debut came with 2001’s Fish and Elephant, purportedly the first mainland Chinese feature to tackle the subject of lesbianism. The film was screened abroad with some difficulty, but for the most part was not given an opportunity to screen before mainland Chinese audiences. Her next film, Dam Street, was plagued less by problems, and garnered Li the Golden Lotus from the specialty Deauville Asian Film Festival in 2006.
In 2007, Li Yu’s most high profile film yet, Lost in Beijing premiered at the 2007 Berlin International Film Festival. The result was over a year of controversy with the Chinese Film Bureau over both the… read more
Three slackers rent rooms from a retired Peking Opera singer. There are clashes but they grow to understand each other. Their landlady cannot overcome her deep grief at the loss of her son. Fan Bingbing delivers a very intense performance. I have grown to appreciate her strength of her performances in this film and Lost in Beijing.