NYC Chinese Cultural Events and Art Exhibitions: May 27 – June 2, 2016


This week: Anthology Film Archives screens a documentary by Jia Zhangke and a few of his films; a musical play by Angel Lam evokes the glamour and nostalgia of a Shanghai of yesteryear; Fou Gallery hosts a talk; a work in progress performance about kindness in China; a documentary about Chinese in the Mississippi River Delta; and your last change to see Kaili Blues and exhibitions at inCube Arts and Chambers Fine Art.

Coming up:

6/7 – Harvard University professor Michael Puett, who teaches a course on Chinese philosophy, one of the most popular classes at the school, is joined by journalist Christine Gross-Loh to talk about how Chinese philosophy is relevant today.

6/10 – Nanfu Wang’s Hooligan Sparrow, a film about an activist who fought against child sex abuse in Hainan province, screens at Human Rights Watch Festival 2016.

6/12 – A salon talk about Chinese contemporary classical music.

6/12 – The trio Ragged Silk, which features Juliane Jones, pipa virtuoso Zhou Yi, and zhongruan virtuoso Yueqin Eugenie Chen, performs at Rockwood Music Hall.

6/16 – 6/30 – MOMA’s series on Taiwanese cinematographer Mark Lee Ping-Bing screens 15 films

We add talks, films, performances, exhibitions, featuring or relating to Chinese, Taiwanese, diasporic artists and topics to our event and ongoing exhibition calendars as we learn of them.

We post frequently on our Facebook page.  So check the page for links we share and get a heads up on events before we include them in these weekly posts.  Take a look also at our Instagram page.

If you’re interested in contributing to Beyond Chinatown, whether writing an article, contributing photos or artwork to be featured with our weekly events and exhibitions listing, letting us know about an event, send an email to

This week’s events

1) Mountains May Depart 《山河故人》 – At once an intimate drama and a decades-spanning epic that leaps from the recent past to the present to the speculative near-future, Jia’s new film is an intensely moving study of how China’s economic boom – and the culture of materialism it has spawned – has affected the bonds of family, tradition, and love.  The film opens in 1999 to the strains of the Pet Shop Boys’ Go West, and it’s to the West that small-town dance instructor Shen Tao looks when she marries the slick entrepreneur Zhang and soon gives birth to a son, whom Zhang christens Dollar.  The chasm between the family’s origins and their new life of Western-style wealth grows ever wider as the film leaps ahead to 2014 and finally to 2025, when Dollar is living in Australia and struggling to relearn the mother tongue he has forgotten with the help of an attractive, older college professor.  Shooting each of the film’s three time periods in a different aspect ratio – with the square Academy frame gradually expanding to widescreen – Jia creates a prescient chronicle of his country’s path to the future.” –Giovanna Fulvi, Toronto International Film Festival

Friday, May 27, 4:30 PM
Anthology Film Archives, 32 Second Avenue
$11/General Admission; $9/Student


2) Hard Boiled 《辣手神探》 – Essential.  This Hong Kong action spectacular—the last film Woo made in Hong Kong before coming for a spell to Hollywood—stars Chow Yun-Fat as a seen-it-all detective named “Tequila” navigating the underworld of the territory’s gangster triads, and Tony Leung as an undercover agent and his reluctant partner.  Pure visual poetry, Hard Boiled is a masterpiece of balletic choreography from one of the most innovative action filmmakers who ever lived.

Friday, May 27, 7 PM
Monday, May 30, 9:30 PM
Metrograph, 7 Ludlow Street
$12/General Admission


3) Jia Zhangke, A Guy from Fenyang – The result of a seemingly counter-intuitive pairing of veteran Brazilian director Walter Salles (Central StationOn the Road) and Chinese auteur Jia Zhangke, Jia Zhangke, A Guy from Fenyang is an unusually fine documentary portrait.  Jia began his filmmaking career in the mid-1990s, immediately establishing his immense talent with his astonishing feature debut, Xiao Wu 《小武》, and its even more ambitious and monumental follow-up, Platform 《站台》, which remains one of the great films of the 2000s.  And he has since delivered on this youthful promise, making a series of features, documentaries, and short films over the past 15 years that have established him as the foremost chronicler of a society undergoing immense and often brutal transformations.

May 27 – 31, 7:15 PM
Anthology Film Archives, 32 Second Avenue
$11/General Admission; $9/Student


4) Still Life《三峡好人》  – Still Life is an empathetic portrait of those left behind by a modernizing society and, like Jia’s earlier films, a hybrid of documentary and fiction.  In Still Life, great changes have come to the town of Fengjie due to the construction of the Three Gorges hydro project: countless families that had lived there for many generations have had to relocate to other cities. Fengjie’s old town, which has a 2,000-year history, has been torn down and submerged forever, but its new neighborhood hasn’t been finished yet.  There are still things that need to be salvaged and yet others that must be left behind.  These life-changing choices confront both Sanming, a miner traveling to Fengjie in search of his ex-wife of sixteen years, and Shen Hong, a nurse who has come to look for the husband she hasn’t seen in two years.  Both Sanming and Shen will find who they’re looking for, but in the process they too will have to decide what is worth salvaging in their lives and what they need to let go of.

Saturday, May 28, 2 PM
Sunday, May 29, 4:45 PM
Anthology Film Archives, 32 Second Avenue
$11/General Admission; $9/Student


5) Poetry of Paper: Artist talk with Lin Yan and Weijia – The 17th UNTITLEDdialogue invites artists Lin Yan and Wei Jia to introduce their artistic practices and experiments employing hand-made paper to create artworks since the 1980s.  The dialogue will unfold as Lin Yan and Wei Jia share with the audience how their artistic concepts have been formulated and expanded throughout time.  Lin Yan and Wei Jia will also discuss their personal stories and collective memory imprinted in the works, including their recent exhibitions in Hong Kong and Taiwan.  The artists will also engage with the audience to exchange ideas on paper and art creation.  After the dialogue, Fou Gallery hosts a reception with handmade desserts and encourages exchange thoughts on art appreciation.

Saturday, May 28, 4 PM
Fou Gallery, 410 Jefferson Ave, Brooklyn
$10, RSVP here


6) A Touch of Sin 《天注定》 – A significant departure for Jia, the daring, poetic, yet brutal A Touch of Sin focuses on four characters, each living in different provinces, who are driven to violent ends. An angry miner, enraged by widespread corruption in his village, decides to take justice into his own hands.  A rootless migrant discovers the infinite possibilities of owning a firearm.  A young receptionist, who dates a married man and works at a local sauna, is pushed beyond her limits by an abusive client.  And a young factory worker goes from one discouraging job to the next, only to face increasingly degrading circumstances.  A Touch of Sin was inspired by four shocking (and true) events that forced the world’s fastest growing economy into a period of self-examination.

Sunday, May 29, 2 PM
Anthology Film Archives, 32 Second Avenue
$11/General Admission; $9/Student


7) Lost in Shanghai – A stage reading performance of a new work written and composed by Angel Lam and directed by Chongren Fan that is an experiment in form and content.  Lost in Shanghai is a glimpse into the lavish, decadent and mysterious world of 1940s Shanghai, based on the true story of a young man’s adventure.  Lush original music and lyrical songs recreates that sensuous era and its unique cultural diversity.  The city was known as “The Paris of the East” and the “New York of the West”…of beautiful clothes and elevated emotions, like a floating world, everything was transient…A time now lost to history.

Listen to “Of Flowers & Fragrance in Moonlit Shanghai” and “Violin Rhapsody” and see an excerpt of a recent preview at Museum of Chinese in America at the Lost in Shanghai press page.

Tuesday, May 31, 7 PM
Wednesday, June 1, 7 PM
Bruce Mitchell Room, 520 Eighth Avenue, 3rd Fl.
For reservations, email  Suggested donation: $10


8) The Kindness Project – The Kindness Project examines the evolution, good or bad, of “kindness” in early 20th century and today’s China.  The piece is loosely based on interviews with people from different generations.  The ensemble uses different devices to explore how the change of kindness affects traditional value, belief system and daily human interactions.

The Kindness Project is created during Chongren’s residency at Mabou Mines’ 2015-2016 Resident Artist Program.  This program is made possible through generous funding by the Jerome Foundation and with public funds from the City of New York, Department of Cultural Affairs and Materials for the Arts.

Thursday, June 2, 5:30 PM
Flamboyan Theater, Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center, 107 Suffolk Street
Free, but RSVP requested


9) Honor and Duty: The Mississippi Delta Chinese – Enjoy a screening of a documentary in a three part series about the Mississippi Delta Chinese.  Followed by Q&A with Executive Producer, E. Samantha Cheng.

Part One: 1870 – 1940 – How Chinese first came to Mississippi told in the context of the period. The what, where and why’s they came and stayed.

Part Two:  1941 – 1945 – Chinese WWII veterans and their families share stories of the war and its impact on their lives in the Mississippi Delta.

Part Three: 1946 – Present – How Chinese have influenced the social and economic fabric, custom and culture of Mississippi.

Thursday, June 2, 6:30 PM
Museum of Chinese in America, 215 Centre Street
Free, RSVP here


Ongoing Films and Shows

1) Kaili Blues 《路边野餐》 – Recently shown at MOMA and Film Society Lincoln Center’s New Directors/New Films series, this multiple prizewinner at the Locarno Film Festival is one the most audacious and innovative debuts of recent years.  Bi Gan’s endlessly surprising shape-shifter comes to assume the uncanny quality of a waking dream as it poetically and mysteriously interweaves the past, present, and future.  Chen Sheng, a country doctor in the Guizhou province who has served time in prison, is concerned for the well-being of his nephew, Weiwei, whom he believes his thug brother Crazy Face intends to sell. Weiwei soon vanishes, and Chen sets out to find him, embarking on a mystical quest that takes him to the riverside city of Kaili and the town of Dang Mai.  Through a remarkable arsenal of stylistic techniques, the film develops into a one-of-a-kind road movie, at once magical and materialist, traversing both space and time. (Adapted from New Directors/New Films)

Dir. Bi Gan
2015, 113 minutes
China, Mandarin with English subtitles 113 minutes

At Metrograph through June 2.

Current Art Exhibitions

In addition to the listings below, three local artists are participating in group shows:

Naomi is part of Rhapsody in Color at Samuel J. Wood Library at Weill Cornell Medical College through 6/10.

Fina Yeung shows her Urban Cages, a mixed media cardboard painting installation about her memory of growing up in a very crowded city, Hong Kong, at Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition’s Wide Open 7 (5/7 – 6/12).

Xiaoshi Vivian Vivian Qin is part of Queens International 2016.  Through 7/31.

Opening and Newly Added:

Let us know of shows that people should know about.

Closing soon:

Son: Signal of Authority (inCube Arts, 5/7 – 5/28)

Taca Sui (塔可) – Steles – Huang Yi Project 《碑錄—黄易计划》 (Chambers Fine Art, 3/31 – 5/28)


Visit the exhibition calendar  for details for the current shows listed below.  As always, check the museum or gallery’s website for hours of operation.

Son: Signal of Authority (inCube Arts, 5/7 – 5/28)

Taca Sui (塔可) – Steles – Huang Yi Project 《碑錄—黄易计划》 (Chambers Fine Art, 3/31 – 5/28)

New Voices: A DSL Collection Story – (Klein Sun Gallery, 5/7 – 6/18)

Xu Lei – New Works (Marlborough Gallery, 5/12 – 6/18)

A Passion for Jade: The Heber Bishop Collection (Metropolitan Museum of Art, 8/15/15 – 6/19/16)

Chinese Textiles Ten Centuries of Masterpieces from the Met Collection (Metropolitan Museum of Art, 8/15/15 – 6/19/16)

Chinese Lacquer Treasures from the Irving Collection, 12th–18th Century (Metropolitan Museum of Art, 8/15/15 – 6/19/16)

Cao Fei (MoMA PS1, 4/3 – 8/31)

Stage Design by Ming Cho Lee (Museum of Chinese in America, 4/28 – 9/11)

Masterpieces of Chinese Painting from the Metropolitan Collection (Metropolitan Museum of Art, 10/31/15 – 10/11/16)

Lead image: Woman photographing Zhong Biao’s Six People One City II.  Photo by Andrew Shiue