NYC Chinese Cultural Events and Art Exhibitions: May 5 – May 11, 2017


This week: Films, films, films! A documentary about the only bank prosecuted following the 2008 financial crisis — a small Chinatown bank — has a special screening before it begins a theatrical run; ‘Til Death Do Us Part director Wang Bing patiently and intimately observes the plight of Burmese Ta’ang ethnic minorities who have sought refuge in Yunnan Province; in the series Jiang Wen Rising, BAM screens seven films by renowned actor-director — auteur — Jiang Wen “whose films confront the last 100 years of Chinese history with subversive humor and a surplus of style”; a few of the films are only being screened once while others more than once.  In the Heat of the Sun and The Sun Also Rises are must-sees.

Just outside of the range for this post, on May 4, is Black Snow 《本命年》, about an ex-con just out of prison who struggles to readjust to everyday life amidst the shadowy back alleys and neon-lit bars of post-Tiananmen Square Beijing.

AMC Empire 25, which normally dedicates one theater a week to a Chinese film is showing five Chinese films.

Local artists and groups are buzzing in May: the W.O.W. Project in Chinatown hosts an evening of open mic storytelling; Yangtze Repertory Theatre stages a play that tells parallel stories in two restaurants; Asia Society celebrates Asian Pacific American Heritage Month; Angel Lam’s wartime musical play drawn from family diaries; Ba Ban Chinese Music Society brings the glamour of Jazz Age Shanghai; jazz singer Stephanie Chou takes the stage at Flushing Town Hall; and documentaries that tell personal stories of immigration at Chatham Square Library and at 21 Pell Street.

We added one exhibition to the list – an installment of the REWOVEN: Innovative Fiber Art series that was left off earlier listings.

There are quite a few exhibitions going on now. We recommend spending some time in Chelsea and seeing Liu Xiaofei’s video works at Art100; Geng Xue’s ceramics at Klein Sun; and the Chinese Performance Photography of the 1990s exhibition at the Walther Collection. Frieze New York art fair is happening this weekend. Be on the lookout for artists from China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong.

If you happen to the NYC Indie Film Festival, be sure to catch two short films by Taiwanese filmmakers:

Chai (Destroy) 《拆》
Dir. Peng Jun Yi, Zhu Qi Guang, and Zhang Si Ann
2016, 5 min.
Thursday, May 4, 11 PM
Producers Club, Theater S, 358 W. 44th Street

Dir. Yun-Sian Huang
2016, 17 min.
Saturday, May 6, 4 PM
Producers Club, Theater S, 358 W. 44th Street

Coming up:

May 16 – A screening of Liu Xiaofei’s Assembly Line followed by a conversation with with Richard Vine, Managing Editor of Art in America and the artist.

May 17 – A live podcast interview about Chinese law with Professor Jerome Cohen

May 25 – A talk with author Jason Chang about anti-Chinese racism in Mexico from the late 19th to mid-20th centuries.

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) Asia Society’s Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Celebration – Celebrate the start of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month with a night of fun and culture at Asia Society’s annual kick-off party. Enjoy free museum admission and tours, dancing, live music, street food, and more.

  • Free tour of the Secrets of the Sea exhibition
  • Live rocking Bhangra and Bollywood beats and Dhol drumming by DJ Royal
  • Drink specials, tea tasting by Charlene Wang of Tranquil Tuesdays, and food by Big D’s Grub Truck
  • 20% off collections by Asian American designers at AsiaStore

Exhibitions on view:

  • Secrets of the Sea: A Tang Shipwreck and Early Trade in Asia — the exhibition The Wall Street Journal says is “astonishing” and “full of lessons big and small.”
  • Art of the Tang Dynasty (618–906): Selections from the Asia Society Museum Collection
  • Masterpieces from the Asia Society Museum Collection

Friday, May 5, 6 – 9 PM
Asia Society


2) We Agree On Nothing: Glossolalia Issue #3 Launch – How do Chinese writers circumvent the downward pressure of government censorship? Find out at the Manhattan launch of Glossolalia Issue 3: We Agree on Nothing, new writing from mainland China. With Canaan Morse, Eleanor Goodman, Jeremy Tiang, and Glossolalia Editor Antonio Aiello.

Friday, May 5, 6 – 7 PM
33 Bond Street #A


3) Global Mashup #4: Taiwan Meets Jamaica – Flushing Town Hall mashes up two cultures on one stage with an open dance floor! Stephanie Chou, saxophonist, singer, and composer whose music combines Classical and Chinese influences with jazz, and Jamaican artist Owen Romeo with his group Tribal Legacy, presenting an array of Caribbean music. Each band plays a set, then the two meet and jam.

Read our interview with Stephanie here.

Friday, May 5, 7 PM
Flushing Town Hall


4) In the Heat of the Sun 《阳光灿烂的日子》 – Jiang’s anarchic take on the coming of age saga follows daredevil teen Monkey (Xia) as he and his friends run wild through the streets of Beijing during Mao’s Cultural Revolution, envisioned by the director as a sun-splashed urban wilderness of youthful abandon. Pulsing with visual imagination—particularly in the dynamic, unchained camerawork—it’s frustratingly hard to see in the US, but ranks as one of the major works of 1990s Chinese cinema.

Dir. Jiang Wen
1994, 140 min.

Screens as part of the series Jiang Wen Rising.

Friday, May 5, 7:30 PM
Tuesday, May 9, 7:30 PM
BAM Rose Cinemas


5) Immortal Chi: A Warrior’s Quest for Balance – A spectacular new fusion of Chinese martial arts and jaw-dropping acrobatics, accompanied by an all-female percussion ensemble.

Directed by Érick Villeneuve, whose show Era, Intersection of Time has been running in Shanghai since 2005. ‘Immortal Chi’ weaves a compelling narrative around a Tai-Chi master and his ultimate challenge to regain his inner energy and life force.

Audiences can expect to see adrenaline-packed stunts, traditional weaponry, incredible feats of human endurance,and stunning costumes. In short, Immortal Chi is a feast for the senses that brings the ancient traditions and rich theatrical history of China to life with a rousing 21st century twist.

Friday May 5, 7:30 PM
Saturday, May 6, 7:30 PM
Schimmel Center, 3 Spruce Street


6) Lost in Shanghai – Lost in Shanghai is an untold adventure story and romance, giving a glimpse into the lavish and mysterious world of 1940’s Shanghai, a time when 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.

Based on family diaries, Angel Lam’s Lost in Shanghai pushes the boundaries of theatre by integrating a unique sound world of classical, musical theatre, East Asian music esthetics and folk songs, transporting audiences to a different time and place. The cast of 6 portray diverse characters in an adventure and love story against the backdrop of war from a personal perspective that has universal but personal relevance.

Friday, May 5, 7:30
Saturday, May 6, 2:30 PM and 7:30 PM
The Studio Theatre, 410 West 42nd Street


7) My Life in China 《我的中国生活》 –  About this documentary, Kenneth Eng writes: “My father fled the Cultural Revolution in 1966.  After risking his life to get to America, he started our family in Boston. But when his restaurant went bankrupt and my mom got sick, he began to feel like he’d failed at the American Dream. A story of migration is passed down from father to son, as we retrace the precarious steps he took in search of a better life. Ultimately asking the question, what does it mean to be both Chinese and American?”

Saturday, May 6, 2 PM
NYPL Chatham Square Library, 33 E. Broadway


8) Let the Bullets Fly 《让子弹飞》 – Jiang’s loopy sensibility meets action genre spectacle, and the results shattered box office records in China. It’s a totally unhinged mix of cartoon comedy and rat-tat-tat gunplay, with the director as a bandit facing off against Chow Yun-fat’s crime boss in 1920s China. Appreciate this for both its ceaselessly inventive, pure-pleasure filmmaking, as well as for the sly political commentary that Jiang sneaks in.

Dir. Jiang Wen
2010, 132 min.

Screens as part of the series Jiang Wen Rising.

Saturday, May 6, 2 PM
Thursday, May 11. 7:30 PM
BAM Rose Cinemas


9) Devils on the Doorstep 《鬼子来了》 – Winner of the Grand Prix at Cannes but banned in the director’s home country, Jiang’s sophomore feature is a gonzo, wild-ride anti-war satire. Set during the Japanese occupation of China, it charts the pileup of tragicomic absurdities that ensue when a peasant (played by the filmmaker) is charged with looking after two volatile POWs—all building up to the audacious climax.

Dir. Jiang Wen
2000, 139 min.

View the trailer at MUBI.

Screens as part of the series Jiang Wen Rising.

Saturday, May 6, 3 PM
BAM Rose Cinemas


10) Shanghai Memories: Golden Songs from the 1930s and 1940s – Narrated and hosted by Zhou Yi, this performance by Ba Ban Chinese Music Society is a demonstration of the cultural melting pot that existed in Shanghai during World War II, presenting traditional Shanghai music infused with western influences from jazz and popular music of the day. It paints a vintage scene depicting Shanghai as the Paris of the East.

Saturday, May 6, 7:30 PM
Flushing Town Hall


11) Twin Restaurants – In this original comedic play written by Jiang Shan and directed by Tony Wang, two robbers enter an Italian restaurant in NYC on a snowy night. At the same time, a white girl steps into a traditional Chinese restaurant at noon. The two unrelated restaurants witness a funny but thought-provoking story.

Saturday, May 6, 7:30 PM
Sunday, May 7, 8 PM
Alchemical Theater Laboratory, 104 West 14th Street, 2nd Floor


12) Reunification – In this award-winning film that gives an insider view on the contemporary immigrant experience, divorce and family psychology, and personal filmmaking, director Alvin Tsang 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 17 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.

Sunday, May 7, 3 PM
21 Pell Street


13) Gone with the Bullets 《一步之遥》 – Returning to the Jazz Age milieu of Let the Bullets Fly, Jiang unleashes a deliriously stylized, subtly subversive crime musical. He stars as a Shanghai gangster who stages a rigged beauty pageant (cue a series of dizzyingly over-the-top song and dance numbers) that spirals into tragedy. Along the way there are references to everything from silent slapstick to film noir to The Godfather, with Jiang doing his best Brando.

Directed by Jiang Wen
2013, 140 min.

Screens as part of the series Jiang Wen Rising.

Sunday, May 7, 4:15 PM
BAM Rose Cinemas


14) Hibiscus Town 《芙蓉镇》– Balancing epic breadth with human detail, this sweeping historical saga follows the fortunes of a bean curd seller as she goes from self-made success to persona non grata during the tumultuous years of the Cultural Revolution, ultimately finding love with another enemy of the state.

Dir. Xie Jin
1986, 164 min.

Screens as part of the series Jiang Wen Rising.

Sunday, May 7, 7:15 PM
BAM Rose Cinemas


15) Abacus: Small Enough to Jail – From acclaimed director Steve James (Hoop Dreams, The Interrupters, Life Itself), Abacus: Small Enough to Jail tells the incredible saga of the Chinese immigrant Sung family, owners of Abacus Federal Savings of Chinatown, New York. Accused of mortgage fraud by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., Abacus becomes the only U.S. bank to face criminal charges in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. The indictment and subsequent trial forces the Sung family to defend themselves – and their bank’s legacy in the Chinatown community – over the course of a five-year legal battle.

Followed by a Q&A with two members of the Sung family.

Dir. Steve James
2017, 88 min.

This screening precedes a theatrical run that begins on May 19.

Tuesday, May 9, 7 PM
IFC Center


16) The Sun Also Rises 《太阳照常升起》 – Over the course of four stories and four seasons, Jiang weaves a dazzling, dreamlike vision of Chinese history from the 1950s to the end of Cultural Revolution. There’s a tale of madness, of a doomed love triangle, and of jealousy and velvet—all leading up to a time-traveling finale set in the Gobi Desert. The director’s most complex film is a gorgeous puzzle overflowing with indelible images.

Dir. Jiang Wen
2007, 116 min.

Screens as part of the series Jiang Wen Rising.

Wednesday, May 10, 7:30 PM
BAM Rose Cinemas


17) The Chinese Mind: Traditional Wisdom and Its Transformation in Modern Times – Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism constitute the “three teachings” that have historically had the largest influence on Chinese culture. This lecture by acclaimed scholar Yu Zhenhua will explore these three influential schools of thought from the perspective of world history, and examine what happened when Chinese society was confronted with the large-scale introduction of Western ideas, beginning in the 17th century. What were the foundations of these three major schools of Chinese thought? What effect has Western philosophy and thought had on these beliefs over time? How have these philosophies shaped the Chinese mind as it exists today?

This lecture will be the first in a series exploring Chinese thought, wellness, and beliefs and how they relate to our modern world.

Thursday, May 11, 6:30 PM
China Institute


18) W.O.W Project: Chinatown Storytelling Open Mic Night – Wing On Wo & Co. invites past participants of the 店面 Residency’s Lunar New Year Red Envelope & Oral History Workshops as well as the public to come and for an evening of intergenerational storytelling in celebration of Chinatown stories.

W.O.W. is leaving it really open ended with options to share anything from what Chinatown means to you, an ode to your favorite place or restaurant in the neighborhood, or even an open letter to a Chinatown newcomer. Everybody has a 5-8 minute window to share through poetry, spoken word, music, anything you’d like!

Participants don’t have to be from Chinatown. Anybody who wants to share their meaningful connection to the neighborhood through storytelling can present.

If you’re interested in participating, please e-mail W.O.W. at with your name and the title of your piece.

Thursday, May 11, 7 PM
Wing On Wo & Co., 26 Mott Street


1) Ta’ang – Continuing Anthology’s longstanding commitment to presenting the work of Wang Bing, and as a culmination of the series, Displaced Persons: Migration on Film, Anthology Film Archives host the theatrical premiere run of Wang’s new film, Ta’ang, perhaps the most revealing cinematic portrait yet of life in a refugee camp. Taking as his subject the Burmese Ta’ang ethnic minority refugees who have crossed to China’s Yunnan province to escape a violent insurgency raging near their homes in Myanmar, Wang documents their experiences with the profound patience, palpable attention to detail, and peerless intimacy that distinguished his past masterpieces West of the TracksFengming, and ‘Til Madness Do Us Part. Wang is possessed of an extraordinary ability to locate in the flux and chaos of his subject matter a clarifying shape and imagery of sometimes devastating power, without ever allowing structural concerns or visual style to take precedence over the lives of the men and women before his camera. Ta’ang is as urgent and timely a film as he’s made to date.

Dir. Wang Bing
2016, 147 min.
In Ta’ang with English subtitles

Opens at Anthology Film Archives May 5


2) Enter the Warrior’s Gate 《勇士之门》 – In this Chinese-French production, a teenager was transported to China in a magical way for a mission to accomplish by saving the princess from danger. He transforms himself into a Kung Fu warrior to battle the evil villains by converting his video game skills.

Opens at AMC Empire 25 May 4.


3) Shock Wave 《拆弹专家》– Cheung Choi-san is a senior inspector of the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Bureau (EOD). Seven years ago, he went undercover and became the protégé of Hung Kai-pang, a top wanted criminal specializing in bombs. Cheung successfully disintegrated Hung’s criminal gang, but during the operation, Hung manages to escape while his younger brother and allies were captured. To seek revenge for Cheung’s betrayal, Hung comes back seven years later and prepares to plant a series bombs in Hong Kong, which creates public panic, and lures Cheung out for action to unfold an ultimate plan for revenge.

The film stars Starring Andy Lau and beat Fate of the Furious during the May 1 holiday weekend.

Opens at AMC Empire 25 May 4


4) This is Not What I Expected 《喜欢你》 – Lu Jin (Takeshi Kaneshiro) is a handsome, wealthy hotel executive whose drive for perfection is matched only by his taste for fine cuisine. When he checks into the Rosebud, he’s dissatisfied with everything he sees and is ready to take action… until flamboyant female sous chef Gu Shengnan (Zhou Dongyu) creates the perfectionist what may be a perfect meal. Now, these bitter rivals find themselves brought together in the kitchen in this light-hearted romantic comedy, infused with fun and flavors to create a delicious dish that foodies around the world wouldn’t dare to miss.

Opens at AMC Empire 25 May 4.


5) Battle of Memories 《记忆大师》– What will happen if your brain locates a memory that doesn’t belong to you? In 2025, the memory-manipulation operation has been popularized across the world. Feng, a prestigious novelist (Huang Bo), deletes the memory of his failed marriage. But when he tries to recover the lost memories, he finds himself in the mind of a serial killer. He reaches out to police officer Shen (Duan Yihong) and when they begin to solve the case together, a conspiracy surfaces.

At AMC Empire 25


6) Born in China – Disneynature, in its ongoing quest to bring the natural world to the big screen as never before, presents its most ambitious project to date, taking moviegoers on a grand journey into the wilds of China. Born In China follows the adventures of three animal families — the majestic panda, the savvy golden monkey and the elusive snow leopard. Featuring stunning imagery, the film navigates the vast terrain—from the frigid mountains to the heart of the bamboo forest—on the wings of a red-crowned crane, showcasing remarkably intimate family moments captured on film for the first time ever.

At AMC Empire 25


7) The Boba Room – Chaimi Food Studio, founded by Yanqiong Zeng and Iris Danlu Xing, conceived of this interactive exhibition inspired by bubble tea which Gothamist describes as “an intersection of art, design and food that combines the duo’s appreciation for food with their backgrounds and experiences in visual art, photography and food engineering and science.”  Artists Natalie Jarvis and Melody Shih helped realize the idea with neon art and wall paintings.  Vivi Bubble Tea, Gong Cha, Pa Tea, Tea and Milk and Luv Tea will take turns serving bubble tea during the 2 week run, and Boba Guys, Tea and Milk, and Bibi Bubble Tea will be there for the entirety of the show.

April 22 – May 6
Open Space Gallery, 355A Bowery


In addition to the below, Bejing gallery Boers-Li Gallery, Shanghai galleries Leo Xu Projects and Antenna Space, and Taipei gallery Chi-Wen Gallery will present at Frieze New York at Randall’s Island Park, May 5 -7.

Chi-Wen Gallery will present Chien-Chi Chang’s The War That Never Was (2017) and Yin-Ju Chen’s Extrastellar Evaluations (2016).

In the video The War That Never Was, Chang interviews his mother, who was born in 1938 in a poor region of Taiwan. His questions are about her life as a wife, a mother and a laborer. With her life dedicated to survival, global affairs have little meaning to her and she never heard of the Cold War.

The questions juxtapose important family moments with historical events during the Cold War, presented as archival photographs, film and sketches.

The presentation is complemented with a sound installation “You and the Atomic Bomb by George Orwell 1945,” in which Stephen Barnes reads the famous George Orwell essay “You and the Atomic Bomb” that coined the term “Cold War.”

Chien-Chi Chang – ‘The War that Never Was’, video still.

Chen explores the function of power in human society, collective thinking and collective unconsciousness, and most recently the relationship between human behavior and the cosmos. Extrastellar Evaluations continues her research into dystopia, conspiracy and art history.

Referencing a theory within biogeography that posited the existence of a “lost land” called Lemuria, the work envisions a version of history in which Lemurians lived among humans in mid-20th-century America, under the guise of renowned artists. The 1960s are presented as a key era that saw significant events, including the Cold War, the Vietnam War, the Cultural Revolution and the civil rights movement.

Chen’s work highlights the destructiveness of human activities and the need to step back and reassess.

Yin-Ju Chen – ‘Extrastellar Evaluations’, installation detail

Opening and Newly Added:

REWOVEN: Innovative Fiber Art – Part II (Goodwin-Ternbach Museum, Queens College, 4/6 – 5/26) – This venue, one of three for REWOVEN: Innovative Fiber Art, presents ten artists express creativity and a commitment to environmental issues in a convergence of painted, woven, assembled, and installed artworks. While many pieces incorporate traditional craft, the artists use contemporary strategies to transform natural, industrial, and waste materials into works of wit, whimsy, protest, and beauty that address such issues as the endangered Earth. Each piece displays ingenuity in redefining the practice of fiber art. In pursuit of a radical agenda, these compelling voices reexamine innovation, social justice, and art history in a distinctly Taiwanese context.

The exhibition is an international collaboration between the Taiwanese American Arts Council, New York; the Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts, Taiwan; Queensborough Community College Art Gallery, CUNY; and the Godwin-Ternbach Museum at Queens College, CUNY.

Huang Wen-Ying – ‘Uniform’, 2008. Stainless steel wire, coated copper. Collection of Kaoshiung Museum of Fine Arts

Let us know if there’s a show that should be included in our listing and calendar.


Closing soon:

Emma Yi – Masks Inside (Cloud Gallery, 4/29 – 5/6)

The Map is Not the Territory (group curated show with Lux Yuting Bai) (Pfizer Building, 4/21 – 5/14)

Chow: Making the Chinese American Restaurant (Museum of Food and Drink Lab, 11/11/16 – 5/28/17)


Current shows:

In addition to the below is The Map is Not the Territory for which SVA MA Curatorial Practice fellow Lux Yuting Bai is one of the curators.  It runs April 21 to May 14 at Pfizer Building, 630 Flushing Avenue, Brooklyn.

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

Emma Yi – Masks Inside (Cloud Gallery, 4/29 – 5/6)

The Map is Not the Territory (group curated show with Lux Yuting Bai) (Pfizer Building, 4/21 – 5/14)

Chow: Making the Chinese American Restaurant (Museum of Food and Drink Lab, 11/11/16 – 5/28/17)

You Know My Name You Don’t Know My Story (Fou Gallery, 4/1 – 6/4)

Liu Xiaofei: Assembly Line (ART100 New York, 4/20 – 6/10)

Endurance: New Works by Xie Xiaoze (Chambers Fine Art, 4/6 – 6/17)

Geng Xue – Mount Sumeru (Klein Sun Gallery, 5/4 – 6/17)

Rewoven: Innovative Fiber Art (QCC Art Gallery CUNY, 3/16 -6/20) 

Rewoven: Innovative Fiber Art – Part II (Goodwin-Ternbach Museum, Queens College, 4/6 – 5/26)

Rewoven: Innovative Fiber Art – Part III (El Museo de Los Sures, 4/18 – 6/30)

Celebrating the Year of the Rooster (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1/25 – 7/4)

Infinite Compassion: Avalokiteshvara in Asian Art (Staten Island Museum, 10/22/16 – 9/25/17)

Age of Empires: Chinese Art of Qin and Han Dynasties (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 4/3 – 7/16)

Show and Tell: Stories in Chinese Painting (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 10/29/16 – 8/6/17)

Body, Self, Society – Chinese Performance Photography of the 1990s (The Walther Collection, 4/14 – 8/19)

Sour, Sweet, Bitter, Spicy: Stories of Chinese Food and Identity in America (Museum of Chinese in America, 10/6/2016- 9/10/17) 

Cinnabar: The Chinese Art of Carved Lacquer, 14th – 19th Century (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 6/25/16 -10/9/17)

From the Imperial Theater: Chinese Opera Costumes of the 18th and 19th Centuries (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 6/25/16 – 10/9/17)

Colors of the Universe: Chinese Hardstone Carvings (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 6/25/16 – 10/9/17)

Lead image:Roy Lichtenstein – Landscape in Fog, 1996, Oil and Magna on canvas, 71 x 81 3/4 inches (180.3 x 207.6 cm)

The post has been updated to revise the screening schedules of a few of the Jiang Wen films and to add the Glossolalia launch.