The name South of the Clouds, which comes from a place in Yunnan (located in southwest China), evokes a sense of remoteness and mystery. Fittingly, Zhu Wen’s film is a superbly mature and delicately crafted piece that tackles head on the theme of regret. In his heart, Xu had always belonged in Yunnan. However, in his youth Xu’s love for a girl pulled him away from the opportunities of Yunnan into what has since become a bleak marriage in Northern China. Leaving his many years of misery behind, the middle-aged man packs up his bags and embarks on a journey back to where he truly belongs. But the road to paradise is one littered with difficulties. When Xu unwittingly gets involved in a complicated scam involving a prostitute, he finds him- self placed in police custody. Can his persistence in achieving personal happiness over- come the many barriers that stand in his way?
Zhu Wen riffs on a familiar adage; yet South of the Clouds is far from simplistic or straightforward. Take, for instance, the film’s unpredictable stylistic turn into a Bunuelian landscape. Through a psychologically complex main character, Zhu Wen draws on the many secret desires seated deep within us and awakens the courage to simply pursue.
Awards and selected screenings: NETPAC Prize, 2004 Berlin International Film Festival; 2003 Vancouver International Film Festival
Director Wu Er Shan | China | 1997 | Video | 5:00 | Color | International Premiere
In this video collage, familiar scenes from a Chinese wedding banquet are repeated, accelerated, superimposed, and blurred within one another.