• From left: Platform, A Touch of Sin, Ash Is Purest White (SBS Movies)Source: SBS Movies
Three acclaimed films from one of China's most important filmmakers, streaming at SBS On Demand.
SBS Movies

20 Sep 2019 - 3:11 PM  UPDATED 20 Sep 2019 - 3:49 PM

A member of the 'sixth generation' movement of Chinese cinema, Jia Zhangke is often regarded as the most important Chinese filmmaker of this century; early into his career, The Village Voice's Dennis Lim went as far as to name Jia "one of the most important directors working today" for his fierce commentary on the county's rapidly changing face and the level of craft with which it was delivered. 

Now streaming at SBS On Demand are three films that showcase Jia's versatility in both form and content, from 2000's poetic '80s-set epic Platform to the wuxia-influenced anthology of contemporary stories that make up 2013's hard-hitting A Touch of Sin, through to 2018's love-and-crime tale Ash is Purest White, each starring regular collaborator Zhao Tao (also Jia's wife since 2012).


China, 2000
Genre: Drama
Language: Mandarin
Director: Jia Zhangke
Starring: Zhao Tao, Wang Hongwei, Liang Jingdong, Tian Yi Yang, Wang Bo, Han Sanming
What's it about?
The political and social changes that swept China during the 1980s are reflected in the lives of a troupe of musicians. Set in Jia’s native Fenyang in Shanxi Province, the film offers an epic history of China in radical cultural and economic transformation from Maoism to market capitalism. Voted the 2nd best film of its decade in a 2009 poll conducted by the TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) Cinematheque.

A Touch of Sin

China, 2013
Genre: Drama
Language: Mandarin
Director: Jia Zhangke
Starring: Wu Jiang, Baoqiang Wang, Tao Zhao
What's it about?
This daring, poetic film 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. Winner of the Best Screenplay award from Steven Spielberg's jury at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.

Ash Is Purest White

China, 2018
Genre: Crime, Romance, Drama
Language: Mandarin
Director: Jia Zhangke
Starring: Zhao Tao, Liao Fan, Feng Xiaogang, Xu Zheng, Zhang Yibai, Diao Yi'nan
What's it about?
In an industrial city in China, a young dancer named Qiao falls in love with a mobster named Bin. When a fight breaks out between rival gangs, Qiao uses a gun to protect Bin, and she is sent to prison for five years. Upon her release, she goes looking for Bin to pick up where they left off.

'Ash Is Purest White': Love smoulders, crime pays

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