Asia Society New York Presents China Onscreen Biennial, Nov. 3-Dec. 1

"River" (2015)

NEW YORK, October 18, 2016 — From Thursday, November 3, through Thursday, December 1, Asia Society presents the New York edition of the third China Onscreen Biennial, a cultural and physical immersion into China's remarkable plurality through a selection of six films. Several of the films are made within China’s vastly expanding entertainment industry, yet defy commercial formulas with poetry and grace. Others are works of art that bring urgency to pressing societal concerns.

Ethnic minority directors take center stage. Highlights include A Simple Goodbye (2015), the semi-autobiographical second feature by Mongolian filmmaker Degena Yun, and River (2015), a tender look at the after-effects of the Cultural Revolution on a Tibetan family by Sonthar Gyal.

The series also includes a magnificent 4K digital restoration by L’Immagine Ritrovata of director Xie Jin’s portrait of female solidarity in pre-Revolution China, Stage Sisters (1964).

Closing out the Biennial is the New York premiere of Knife In Clear Water (2016), the feature debut of Wang Xuebo around a Muslim elder’s bond with his beloved bull, starring an entirely non-professional cast.

The China Onscreen Biennial is an initiative of the UCLA Confucius Institute that aims to promote US-China dialogue through the art of film. This third edition of the COB brings a showcase of Chinese films and cultural experiences to American audiences in three major cities. The Biennial will also be presented in Los Angeles from October 14-November 17 and in Washington, D.C. from November 12-27.

The China Onscreen Biennial is presented in conjunction with No Limits: Zao Wou-Ki, on view at Asia Society Museum through January 8, 2017. The exhibition is the first museum retrospective of this pioneering Chinese-French artist’s work in the United States.

Tickets: $8 members; $10 students/seniors; $12 nonmembers. Visit or call 212-517-ASIA (2742) for more information.

For further press information, contact:
Juan Machado /

China Onscreen Biennial New York Schedule

Thu, Nov 3
6:30 p.m.: A Simple Goodbye / 告别

Fri, Nov 4
6:30 p.m.: Trivisa / 树大招风

Sat, Nov 5
2:00 p.m.: River / 河
6:30 p.m.: Stage Sisters / 舞台姐妹

Tue, Nov 29
6:30 p.m.: ATA / 照见

Thu, Dec 1
6:30 p.m.: Knife In Clear Water / 清水里的刀子

Film Descriptions

A Simple Goodbye / 告别
(2015) 97 min.
Directed by Degena Yun. In Mandarin and Mongolian, with English subtitles.
An understated, semi-autobiographical story of a father and daughter, each equally adrift at opposite ends of their lives. Writer/director Degena Yun also stars in the movie, as a college dropout who withdraws from reality into virtual relationships, while her father—diagnosed with cancer and facing death—recedes into memories of his career as a leading Mongolian filmmaker. Their separate but parallel lives cross—and clash—in their last days together. DCP. Color.
Thu, Nov 3, 6:30 p.m.

Trivisa / 树大招风
(2016) 96 min.
Directed by Jevons Au, Frank Hui, Vicky Wong. In Cantonese, Mandarin and Thai, with English subtitles.
Taking its name from the Buddhist idea of the “three root poisons” of greed, anger and ignorance, Trivisa tells the tale of a chance encounter between three gangsters plying the border between Hong Kong and China just before the British administrative handover of Hong Kong in the summer of 1997. This intricate tale was filmed by three young directors who were mentored by veteran auteur Johnnie To. Trivisa cleverly interweaves plans gone awry, missed opportunities and dead ends, reimagining not just the end of an era, but the explosive beginnings of 21st-century Hong Kong. DCP. Color.
Fri, Nov 4, 6:30 p.m.

River / 河
(2015) 94 min.
Directed by Sonthar Gyal. In Tibetan, with English subtitles.
The rich complexity of human relationships is central to this story of a young girl, her father, and his father, who each long to strengthen their bonds, but find themselves fighting the weight of personal and national histories. Tibetan writer-Director Sonthar Gyal (The Sun-Beaten Path) makes breathtaking use of the Tibetan plains and mountains as an epic backdrop to this intimate family drama. DCP. Color.
Sat, Nov 5, 2:00 p.m.

Stage Sisters / 舞台姐妹 (1964) 112 min.
Directed by Xie Jin. In Mandarin, with English subtitles.
Restoration by L’Immagine Ritrovata for the Shanghai International Film Festival.
In this lush backstage drama set in the decades leading up to 1949, a pair of Chinese opera actresses sing their way from the countryside to the city and back again. Caught up in Cultural Revolution power struggles, veteran director Xie Jin’s portrait of female solidarity and awakening political consciousness was banned almost immediately but revived in the 1980s as a masterpiece of Chinese filmmaking, and is now newly released in this magnificent 4K digital restoration. 4K DCP. Color.
Sat, Nov 5, 6:30 p.m.

ATA / 照见 (2014) 94 min.
Directed by Chakme Rinpoche. In Mandarin with English subtitles.
Tianyu is a blind boy whose mother believes his only chance for a future is to become a champion disabled ping-pong player. Tianyu has other ideas – envisioning a much wider world than his mother understands. When he goes missing, she is forced to see things as he does in this beautiful, spiritually suffused debut feature from Tibetan writer-director Chakme Rinpoche. DCP. Color.
Tue, Nov 29, 6:30 p.m.

Knife In Clear Water / 清水里的刀子 (2016) 93 min.
Directed by Wang Xuebo. In Mandarin, with English subtitles. New York premiere.
In the far mountains of Ningxia province, Muslim elder Ma Zishan mourns his deceased wife. His son wants to sacrifice the family’s only bull in memory of the mother, Zishan’s sorrow and his love for the old animal leave him unsure of his path. Even prayers and the Imam don’t seem to erase his doubts… until one morning the bull stops eating and drinking. Has it seen the knife in the clear water? DCP. Color.
Thu, Dec 1, 6:30 p.m. 

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Asia Society is the leading educational organization dedicated to promoting mutual understanding and strengthening partnerships among peoples, leaders, and institutions of Asia and the United States in a global context. Across the fields of arts, business, culture, education, and policy, the Society provides insight, generates ideas, and promotes collaboration to address present challenges and create a shared future. Founded in 1956 by John D. Rockefeller 3rd, Asia Society is a nonpartisan, nonprofit institution with major cultural centers in New York, Hong Kong, and Houston, and offices in Los Angeles, Manila, Mumbai, San Francisco, Seoul, Shanghai, Sydney, Washington, DC, and Zurich.