NYC Chinese Cultural Events and Art Exhibitions: October 28 – November 3, 2016


This week: Three documentary and narrative non-fiction films at NYU, Columbia, and Asia Society; a Berlinale winning film; Hong Kong thrillers and horror films fit for Halloween; a talk about feminism in Taiwan; Ai Weiwei at the Brooklyn Museum; a film about Chinese-American adoptees discovering their country of birth and identify; three new exhibition listings; and more…

If you happen to be in Taiwan at anytime before October 30, be sure to check out the International Design House Exhibition that’s part of World Design Capital Taipei 2016.

Don’t forget that you can get discounts to STOMP performances thanks to their collaboration with MáLà Project.

A viewer standing in front of ‘Random Walker - Dripping’ at the exhibition opening at Fou on October 22, 2016. Photo by Mengyao Wang.

A viewer standing in front of ‘Random Walker – Dripping’ at the exhibition opening at Fou on October 22, 2016. Photo by Mengyao Wang. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Coming up:

November 5 – 6 – A commemoration two playwrights who lived contemporaneously, Tang Xianzu and William Shakespeare

November 9 – Iron Moon: The Poetry of Chinese Workers, an award-winning film about an assembly line worker at an Apple factory who left behind 200 poems of despair when he committed suicide at the age of 24

November 12 – The making of Museum of Chinese in America’s current exhibition, Sour, Sweet, Bitter, Spicy

November 17 – Composer Lei Liang. at Columbia University

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


1) Reel China@NYU 8th Biennial 2016 – Reel China 2016 once again samples outstanding contemporary Chinese independent documentaries, while also showcasing a number of innovative narrative, experimental films and animation works. These films use different kinds of media or technology and are by emerging filmmakers in China (with, in some instances, non-Chinese collaborators). Many of them are award-winning films from the China Independent Film Festival (CIFF) in Nanjing and elsewhere. CIFF also contributes a special shorts program for this Reel China edition.

Participating filmmakers range from more experienced ones to young novices. As their disparate visions and voices extend and overlap, we witness the persistent presence of independent perspectives that assure the discovery and creative engagement of the disorienting contemporary social and psychic fragments that are becoming history at breakneck speed. (Asia Art Archive in America)

See the synopses and descriptions of the over twenty films and a few trailers from our post.

Friday, October 28 – Sunday, October 30
Room 648, Michelson Theater, 721 Broadway, New York University

2) In the Mood for Gore – As part of its long-awaited opening, Alamo Drafthouse partners with Subway Cinema, the folks behind the New York Asian Film Festival, to bring six thrillers and horror films from Hong Kong’s Shaw Brothers (邵氏兄弟(香港)公司), Simon Yam (任達華), Johnnie To (杜琪峯), and others: Seeding of a Ghost 《种鬼》 ; Human Lanterns 《人皮燈籠》; A Day Without Policeman 《冇警時份》; The Eternal Evil of Asia 《南洋十大邪術》; Love to Kill 《虐之戀》; and Intruder 《恐怖鸡》.

Subway Cinema’s Grady Hendrix talked about the series with Screen Anarachy and said that “Preserving Hong Kong’s film culture has always been the job of individual fans.”

Visit the series page for brilliant synopses and trailers for each film.

Friday, October 28 – Sunday October 30
Alamo Drafthouse, 445 Albee Square West


3) Reunification – Alvin Tsang’s award-winning film (Special Jury Prize at SDAFF) gives an insider view on the contemporary Asian American immigrant experience, divorce and family psychology, and personal filmmaking. The filmmaker reflects on his family’s migration from Hong Kong to Los Angeles in the early 1980s – fraught with betrayal from his parents’ divorce, economic strife and communication meltdown between parents and children. This poetic exploration of many unresolved years moves moodily across different channels and modes, bending into labor histories and Hong Kong’s colonial trajectories. Tsang turns the camera on his own family, cautiously prodding for answers, but fully acknowledging that the only closure he can get will be from deciding for himself how to move on.

Saturday, October 29, 2 PM
Queens Library – Forest Hills Branch, Queens, 108-19 71st Ave


4) In Conversation: Ai Weiwei and Tania Bruguera – Join Ai Weiwei, one of China’s most prolific and provocative contemporary artists, for a conversation with Cuban-born artist Tania Bruguera that is timed to coincide with Ai’s first visit to Brooklyn since the return of his passport last year, and after a four-year ban on international travel. Ai discusses his current projects and his ongoing quest for greater worldwide social and civic justice. Together, Ai and Bruguera also explore their mutual interests in positioning their work as a catalyst for change.

Saturday, October 29, 2 PM
Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Auditorium, 3rd Floor, Brooklyn Museum


5) Serene Moon – Jiaoyue Lyu Guqin & Zhu Recital – This recital features two of the most ancient musical instruments of China: Guqin (古琴) and Zhu (筑). It is worth noting that Zhu, the latter of the pair, had been lost for almost one thousand years since its disappearance at the end of the Song Dynasty. It re-surfaced during a major archaeology discovery in 1993. This is the first time that Zhu will be performed outside of China on such an internationally prestigious stage.

The recital will also feature visual effects powered by the world’s most advanced new media. The audience will experience a unique and innovative musical feast where the most ancient Chinese music instruments are accompanied by the most advanced new media technologies.

Saturday, October 29, 8 PM
10th Floor, Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse at Lincoln Center, 70 Lincoln Center Plaza


6) Taiwan’s Feminist Movement and the Changing Role of Women – Anru Lee, a professor of anthropology at John Jay College speaks in this lecture that is part of the Modern Taiwan lecture series at Columbia University.

Tuesday, November 1, 4:10 PM
Schermerhorn Hall, Room 963, Columbia University


7) Touching Home in China: In Search of Missing Girlhoods – Two American adoptees return to rural towns in eastern China where each was abandoned as a newborn girl under the country’s one-child policy. In Touching Home in China: In Search of Missing Girlhoods, these U.S. teens hang out with “hometown” Chinese girls who teach them about what it’s like growing up as a girl in 21st century China. Followed by Q&A with the project’s transmedia producer and writer Melissa Ludtke and her daughter, Maya, one of the adoptees featured in Touching Home in China.

Tuesday, November 1, 6:30 PM
Museum of Chinese in America


8) The Memory Project – Over two days, four films and discussions with Columbia faculty members will examine personal histories and perceptions of the past.

Day 1:

Self-portrait: Dying at 47 KM (77 min., 2015); Directed, edited by Zhang Mengqi
Filmmaker’s Words: This is the fifth film in my “Village 47 km” film series since 2011. In 2015, my grandfather passed away. What does it mean for me to be without my grandpa? Because of my grandpa’s passing, I started to search for stories about death: the improper deaths in the past, strange deaths, deaths from hatred… How can I understand death in this village where there have been so many different kinds of deaths?

Investigating My Father (80 min., 2016); Directed, edited by Wu Wenguang
Filmmaker’s Words: This film is made by a son to investigate his father’s history. The son asks how the father changed from a man of the “old society” to a man of the “new society” after 1949. This “son” is myself. The film is a story between my father and myself.


Speakers: Lydia Liu, Wun Tsun Tam Professor in the Humanities, Columbia University; Liu Xiaolei, Film Director; Wu Wenguang, Film Director; Ying Qian, Assistant Professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures, Columbia University; Zhang Mengqi, Film Director; Zhang Ping, Film Director

Day 2:

Public panel

Speakers: Jane Gaines, Professor of Film, Columbia University School of the Arts; Lydia Liu, Wun Tsun Tam Professor in the Humanities, Columbia University; Liu Xiaolei, Film Director; Richard Peña, Professor of Professional Practice, Columbia University School of the Arts; Wu Wenguang, Film Director; Ying Qian, Assistant Professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures, Columbia University; Zhang Mengqi, Film Director; Zhang Ping, Film Director

No Land (40 min., 2015); Directed, edited by Zhang Ping
Filmmaker’s words:  An abandoned village, a man digging a grave for himself, an illiterate former “rightist” and “anti-revolutionary” who experienced the absurdity of history, an old man, my father. This is my first film, and I did it in an unconventional way. I used still photography and sound to construct this film, to experiment whether I could build a narrative out of them. This unconventional way of expression allowed me to deepen understanding on the audio-visual medium.

A True Believer (80 min., 2015); Directed, edited by Liu Xiaolei
Filmmaker’s words:  It took me five years to make this film. I began in the style of Direct Cinema, following the members of the anti-pickpocket organization “Falcon” and asking them about their memories of a hero named “Cannon” who had passed away in action with “Falcon”. Yet, as the filming went out, my attitude began to change. At first, I had been eager to participate in their actions, using the camera to capture the thieves and punish them, while dreaming of being a hero to escape my mediocre life. Yet after witness the mutual harm done by members of the Falcon and the thieves, especially after a Uyghur boy appeared in my life, I began to turn my attention to the thieves, to ask where there were thieves in the society to begin with, and where their hatred towards the society came from. Moving away from Direct Cinema to using subjective monologues to express my own contradictory feelings towards the Falcon and the Uyghur boy, I ask how one should position himself in a world where the line between right and wrong is blurred, and whether an ordinary person’s dream of heroism could be used as a tool to change the society.

Presented by: Weatherhead East Asian Institute; the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society; the C.V. Starr East Asian Library; the M.A. Program in Film and Media Studies, Columbia University; the Confucius Institute at Columbia University.

Tuesday, November 1, 7 PM
Wednesday, November 2, 4:00 PM
Room 918, International Affairs Building, Columbia University


9) A Simple Goodbye 《告别》 – 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.

Dir. Degena Yun
2015. 97 min. DCP. Color.
In Mandarin and Mongolian, with English subtitles

Thursday, November 3, 6:30 PM
Asia Society


10) Literature of the Six Dynasties Period: A Ben Wang Lecture Series, Part 2 – In conjunction with Art in a Time of Chaos, the grand exhibition of cultural relics from the Six Dynasties Period at China Institute, Ben Wang, Senior Lecturer of Language and Humanity of the Institute, offers a special course on literature of the Six Dynasties Period. Lives and works by representative poets of the period as well as the quintessential spirit of famed texts A New Account of Tales of the World and Zhaoming’s Collection of Literary Works will be discussed in this three-session series.

Thursday, November 3, 6:30 PM
China Institute


1) Crosscurrent 《长江图》 – Mysterious, sublime and elegiac, director Yang Chao’s odyssey blends breathtaking images with fantasy, poetry and history to create a complex magical universe. From the Shanghai metropolis to the snow-capped Tibet mountain, Gao Chun steers his cargo up the Yangtze, a river that has nurtured a centuries-old civilization. He comes across An Lu, a beautiful woman who appears in a different identity at every port recorded by a poetry book. Longing for her company, he realizes she gradually turns younger as he journeys upstream. He starts to wonder whether An Lu is supernatural or he is traveling not only in space but also in time. After passing a pagoda that reverberates Buddha’s voice, a flooded town reappeared elsewhere, the grandiose Three Gorges Dam and many other places where lives have been transformed, he finally arrives at the start of the Yangtze, where he unveils the secret of his past and An Lu.

The film screened at MoMA earlier this year, and cinematographer Mark Lee Ping-Bing won a Silver Bear for Outstanding Artistic Contribution at Berlinale 2016.

Opens October 28 at Regal E-Walk Stadium 13


2) Mr. Donkey 《驴得水》 – From the same team that brought you Goodbye Mr. Loser comes the hilarious dark comedy Mr. Donkey, adapted from their play of the same name.  Set in a rural village in the early ’40s, where a group of idealistic academics run a school. To raise funds, the teachers trick the government into paying a salary to their local pack animal. When a bureaucrat arrives, the faculty scrambles to find someone who can pretend to be this “Mr. Donkey.” (LA Times)

The LA Times says:  “[T]he movie is deeply flawed but also fascinating. There’s a good story here, woven between the thudding jokes.”

Opens October 28 at AMC Empire 25


3) Operation Mekong 《湄公河行動》– Inspired by the true story known as the Mekong Massacre – two Chinese commercial vessels are ambushed while traveling down the Mekong River in the waters of the Golden Triangle, one of the largest drug-manufacturing regions in the world. 13 sailors are executed at gunpoint, and 900,000 methamphetamine pills are recovered at the scene. Upon discovery, the Chinese government immediately sends a band of elite narcotics officers led by Captain Gao Gang (Zhang Hanyu) to the Golden Triangle to uncover the truth behind the murders. Tea field owner and Golden Triangle-based intelligence officer Fang Xinwu (Eddie Peng) joins the investigation. After it is discovered that the drugs seized on the Chinese ships had been planted by the henchman of a notorious drug cartel leader named Naw Khar, the governments of Thailand, Laos, Myanmar and China launch a joint task force to apprehend the criminal. The road to justice is, however, paved with dangerous and deadly obstacles.

The film faces a ban in Thailand.

At AMC Empire 25


Opening and Newly Added:

1) Liu Fei – Zipped (Museum Quality, 11/3 – 12/1) – A multimedia installation in three parts: built-in, detached and a site-specific work turning the gallery itself into an installation. Here, Liu Fei attempts to convey the incommunicable, that of the disquiet within the fracas of solitude.

Led by her introspections on the complexity and paradox of human experience, a constellation of the private, the temporal and the compulsion to externalize, the artist constructs an environment as a means of organizing the impulse of creative expression before it vanishes into the stream of consciousness.

Her exploration is undergirded by the choice of an unremarkable site, a random corner in a pedestrian mall, forcing the viewer to transverse a slippery terrain, a complex experience of visual aesthetic gone astray, partly mesmerizing, occasionally startling.


Liu Fei – Still from ‘ Undifferentiated Matrix’, a multi-media installation

Opening reception:
Thursday, November 3, 6 – 9 PM
Museum Quality, 59 Pearl Street, Brooklyn


2) Liu Wei (Lehmann Maupin, 11/2 – 12/17) – In Lehmann Maupin’s second exhibition with Liu Lei, his works will be shown in both of the gallery’s New York Location. Each space will feature an installation alongside new paintings in which Liu Wei continues his examination of the physiological and psychological conditions that shape reality.

Over the past two decades, Liu Wei has resisted commitment to a specific medium or way of making, choosing instead to work with a wide range of media that facilitates the conceptual nature of his work. While many of his paintings, sculptures, installations, and videos reference Chinese culture and its modern landscape, his focus lies in universal issues affecting contemporary society, such as the transformative effect of urbanization on the landscape and unbalanced hierarchies of authority. Liu Wei approaches these concepts with an open mind, without imparting a particular political line of thinking. As part of the post-Mao generation, the artist has expressed how the rapid development of China and the constant shifting of ideology and values created an uncertain state of reality, which has deeply informed his artistic pursuits. Central to Liu Wei’s practice is his manipulation and alteration of perception as a tool to create environments where viewers encounter a complex and varied existence.

Opening reception:
Wednesday, November 2, 6 PM
Lehmann Maupin, 536 W 22nd St


3) Yang Mian (M. Sutherland Fine Arts, 11/3 – 12/??) – The exhibition features Chengdu-born painter Yang Mian’s CMYK palette which reinterprets classical works through the veil of contemporary commercial reproduction.  Public hours 11/3 – 11/5.  By appointment through December.

Yang Main - CMYK - Jin Dynasty Flying Asparas, 2016. Acrylic on canvas, 39.25 x 55 in. (100 x 140 cm) Courtesy of M. Sutherland Fine Arts

Yang Main – CMYK – Jin Dynasty Flying Asparas, 2016. Acrylic on canvas, 39.25 x 55 in. (100 x 140 cm) Courtesy of M. Sutherland Fine Arts


Closing soon:

Lee Kit – Skin (Jane Lombard Gallery, 9/15 – 10/29)

Erote (The Hollows Art Space, 9/7 – 10/30)

Lan Zhenghui: Re-thINK Ink-Landscape (Ethan Cohen, 9/9 – 10/31)

Han Bing: Urban Amber (FitzGerald Fine Arts, 8/1 – 11/1)

All The Ways In Which I Abuse Her : New Painting by Ting Yih (Gallery 456, 10/7 – 11/4)

Wu Jian’an: Ten Thousand Things (Chambers Fine Art, 9/8 – 11/12)

Wei Dong: Observer ( Klein Sun Gallery, 10/13 – 11/12)

Chou Chun Fai: Everything Comes With an Expiry Date (Klein Sun Gallery, 10/13 – 11/12)


Current shows:

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.


Lee Kit – Skin (Jane Lombard Gallery, 9/15 – 10/29)

Erote (The Hollows Art Space, 9/7 – 10/30)

Lan Zhenghui: Re-thINK Ink-Landscape (Ethan Cohen, 9/9 – 10/31)

Han Bing: Urban Amber (FitzGerald Fine Arts, 8/1 – 11/1)

All The Ways In Which I Abuse Her : New Painting by Ting Yih (Gallery 456, 10/7 – 11/4)

Wu Jian’an: Ten Thousand Things (Chambers Fine Art, 9/8 – 11/12)

Wei Dong: Observer ( Klein Sun Gallery, 10/13 – 11/12)

Chou Chun Fai: Everything Comes With an Expiry Date (Klein Sun Gallery, 10/13 – 11/12)

Cultural Revolution, Propaganda Art, and Historical Memories (Reading Room, C.V. Starr East Asian Library at Columbia University, 535 West 114th St., 9/22 – 11/22)

Meredith Sands / Ziyang Wu (Nancy Margolis Gallery, 10/13 – 11/26) 

Interpreting Brooklyn (Residency Unlimited/El Museo de Los Sures , 10/27 – 11/27)

Liu Fei – Zipped (Museum Quality, 11/3 – 12/1)

Zhang Peili: Continuous Reproduction (Asia Society, 9/9 – 12/4)

Yang Mian (M. Sutherland Fine Arts, 11/3 – 12/??; public viewing 11/3 – 11/5; by appointment through December)

Liu Wei (Lehmann Maupin, 11/2 – 12/17)

Liu Chang: Code is Beautiful ( Fou Gallery, 10/22 – 12/18)

Infinite Compassion: Avalokiteshvara in Asian Art (Staten Island Museum, 10/22 – unknown)

Cheng Ran: Diary of a Madman (New Museum, 10/19 /2016 – 1/5/2017)

No Limits: Zao Wou-Ki (Asia Society, 9/9/16 – 1/8/17)

Art In a Time Of Chaos: Masterworks From Six Dynasties China, 3rd–6th Centuries (China Institute, 9/30/2016 – 3/19/2017)

Sour, Sweet, Bitter, Spicy: Stories of Chinese Food and Identity in America (Museum of Chinese in America, 10/6/2016- 3/26/2017) 

Hung Yi – Fancy Animal Carnival – (Garment District pedestrian plazas on Broadway from 36th to 41st Streets, 9/20/16 – 4/15/17)

Lead image: A Sign in Taipei for a mole removal specialist  Left: If you keep good moles, you will be blessed forever.  Right: If you don’t remove bad moles, you will suffer your whole life..  Photo by Andrew Shiue.