FEATURE: Real-life stories inspired films in Chinese New Year Film Festival
As part of its celebrations for the coming Chinese New Year, the China Cultural Centre in Malta in collaboration with Spazju Kreattiv, is showing five Chinese films which manifest the fast development of the movie industry in China in recent years. Three of these films have been inspired by real-life incidents.
The first film ‘The Bravest’ which was shown on Saturday is the work of director Tony Chan and is an adaptation of the non-fiction book ‘Tears are the deepest water’ by Bao’erji Yuanye. The film’s story is inspired by a real-life plight that took place in 2010 when two crude oil pipelines in Xingang Port exploded and led to a massive oil spill and a relentless fire. About 2,000 firefighters were dispatched from the city and neighbouring areas to tackle the blaze. It took 15 hours to bring the fire under control, during which a firefighter died and another one was seriously wounded.
The film narrative takes place in the fictional seaport of Bingang, where a pipeline explosion threatens to wipe out millions of residents and cause catastrophic effects on the environment. The non-stop action thriller follows the struggle of the firefighters to stop the ravaging fire which is presented almost like a living, breathing entity. In parallel with this challenging operation, each firefighter is fighting with his own personal issues. Pushed to their limits, the firefighters are depicted as brave but also as human beings who show fear when faced with a terrible end. It is the team spirit and the family who awaits them at home that gives them the ultimate strength to carry on and defeat the fire.
Aided by awesome special effects, the film creates a real-like demonic inferno with one explosion after another and a fire sprawling all around the place, eating everything which comes in its way. The thrilling film soundtrack enhances the scenes and reaches out to the emotions of the audience. The great cast starring Huang Xiaoming, Du Jiang, Tan Zhuo, Yang Zi portray each character in a credible realistic way. In 2020, during the 33rd Golden Rooster Awards honouring the best Chinese language films presented between 2019 and 2020, Huang Xiaoming was awarded Best Actor and Yin Xiaotian was awarded Best Supporting Actor for their roles in ‘The Bravest’.
A second film ‘The Climbers’ which was directed by Daniel Lee is based on the real-life challenges that a group of Chinese mountaineers had to go through in their attempt to climb Mount Everest in 1975. Back in the 1960s, a Chinese group had succeeded to climb the mountain from the north side but failed to document it with photographic evidence. After they were challenged by the international community, in 1975 it was decided to embark on another expedition to prove that they could do it again. Starring actor Wu Jing conducted a half-month cold tolerance training in Mount Gangshka, Menyuan Hui Autonomous County, Qinghai Province before the filming started. A popular actor and director, Wu was awarded Best Actor for his Chinese movie ‘Wolf Warrior 2’ during the 23rd Huading Awards ceremony in Macau.
A third film ‘The Captain’ which was co-produced, co-cinematographed and directed by Andrew Lau was also inspired by a real-life event that took place on 14th May 2018 when the cockpit windscreen of an Airbus A319-100 was shattered at 30,000 feet during a routine Sichuan Airlines flight from Chongqing Jiangbei airport to Lhasa in Tibet. Like the American film ‘Sully’ (2016) the film’s story follows the heroics of a passenger jet pilot who skilfully succeeds to pull off a high-altitude miracle.
The rest of the two films which are being shown at Spazju Kreattiv are fiction stories. The story of ‘Looking Up’, a Chinese drama directed by Deng Chao and Baimei Yu, focuses on a Chinese astronaut who has to find a way how to resolve a serious problem that crops up during his space shuttle flight. He tries to come up with an alternative solution by remembering the lessons his father taught him while growing up where he emphasized his use of critical thinking.
On the other hand, the Chinese science fiction film directed by Frant Gwo ‘The Wandering Earth’ is an adaptation of the book bearing the same name which was written by Liu Cixin. Set in the far future, the narrative follows a group of astronauts and rescue workers guiding the Earth away from an expanding sun, while attempting to prevent a collision with Jupiter. This very successful film is China’s first-ever sci-fi blockbuster and it was snapped up by Netflix for release on the streaming giant’s platform.
[The 2023 Chinese New Year falls on January 22.]