Film Info
Premiere Status:Finland
Year of Prod:2013
Running Time:86
Original Language:Mandarin
Awards:GGA Documentary Feature Contender
dir:Mika Mattila
prod:Markku Niska
cam:Mika Mattila
editor:Mikko Sippola
source:Navy Blue Bird Oy
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Wang Guangyi has a Jaguar, a big house and a fondness for cigars. China’s most successful artist, with $23 million in auction sales in 2008 (eighth among living artists), Wang is not the picture of contentment, however. Shaped forever by the Cultural Revolution, Wang creates politically charged paintings and sculptures that critique the encroachment of Western materialism—even as he avails himself of its luxuries. No such contradiction afflicts the young photographer Liu Gang, whose work likewise mocks and challenges the insidious allure of advertising and the commercialization of daily life. At the beginning of a promising career, Liu’s pressures consist of a girlfriend who wants to get married and parents who expect him to support them later in life. (Even if they appreciated his photographs, Mom and Dad can’t fathom the art world or imagine how well Liu might support them one day.) Displaying an eye for the telling detail and an ear for the penetrating insight, first-time director Mika Mattila takes us on a revealing tour of the new China by way of two gifted artists preoccupied with the intersection of East and West. Wang and Liu’s responses to their shared dilemma—the role of the artist in a country where imported desires and values trump longstanding customs and habits—prove ineffably touching. “To be honest, contemporary art has no connection to our tradition,” Wang says. “This paradox haunts us.”
-Michael Fox
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Additional Information

Mika Mattila

Finnish-born Mika Mattila shot a couple of short documentaries and a television doc before serving as cinematographer on Red Forest Hotel, fellow countryman Mika Koskinen’s 2011 inquiry into China’s tree-planting campaign. Chimeras, which marks his feature debut, was shown in the fall of 2012 at the privately owned Today Art Museum in Beijing in conjunction with the Wang Guangyi retrospective, “Thing-in-Itself: Utopia, Pop and Personal Theology.”