Constantly hunting for new ways to express her volcanic dynamism and wealth of ideas, Xiaolu Guo has created a vocabulary of her own, both visual and linguistic, that reflects her sense of being caught between Chinese and English, and her experience growing up during her home country’s wild transition from totalitarian enclave to the new shrine of global capitalism. An “alien” at home and in the global intellectual elite, Guo is an ideal interpreter of the sense of alienation generated by social upheaval and globalization, phenomena for which UFO in Her Eyes is a sophisticated and amusing metaphor.
In a remote village in Southern China, under a hundred-year-old camphor tree, Kwok Yun (Shi Ke), a thirty-something agricultural worker, copulates with her secret (and married) lover, the local school headmaster. On her way home, she sees a strange stone on the ground. When she picks it up, the world around her turns white, as if illuminated by supernatural light. She faints, and wakes up to find a giant white man (Udo Kier) with hairy legs who has been bitten by a snake. Yun must have been visited by a UFO.
When Yun reports the event to Chief Chang (Mandy Zhang), the feisty village leader immediately sees the opportunity to boost the local economy by turning their hometown into an esoteric tourist destination. Soon a policeman from Beijing comes to investigate the UFO sighting. We never see his face, and though his interviews are filmed in black and white, a colourful gallery of unforgettable characters emerges from his interrogations.
UFO in Her Eyes is surrealist and ironic, but also pierced with melancholy and beautiful photography. With startling detail, Guo reshapes reality into a hyper-vivid portrait of chaotic contemporary Chinese society. –TIFF
Xiaolu Guo was born in 1973 in Shi Tang in the South of China. After spending her youth in a small town on the China sea, she went to Beijing at the age of 18, where she studied at the film academy. In 2002, she moved to London. Xiaolu was recently described by The Times as a “phenomenal talent” for her novel writing – she was seen as the unofficial runner-up for the Orange Prize for Fiction for The Concise Chinese-English Dictionary For Lovers. —britdoc.org