The trailer for Jia Zhangke‘s greatly anticipated Cannes entry, A Touch of Sin was uploaded to Youku last week, creating a huge amount of buzz for a film that seems to be pulling no punches when it comes to criticising modern China.
According to the Hollywood Reporter:
One Weibo user described the film as seeming “very audacious,” adding: “Judging from the trailer, it contains a lot of critical scenes based in reality that were created with no fear of the censorship system.”
Little was previously known about Jia’s film, but the trailer hints at several storylines based on widely discussed — but never filmed — Chinese social ills and political scandals, such as a notorious case from Hubei province in 2009, when a pedicurist named Deng Yujiao stabbed and killed a local bureaucrat after he reportedly slapped her in the face with a wad of cash and tried to force himself on her (based on the trailer, Jia’s wife and muse, Zhao Tao plays a woman placed in a similar predicament). Another scene features snippets of news footage from the 2011 high-speed train accident in China that killed 40 people and led to a major scandal over mismanagement of the country’s railway ministry – and yet another mentions Chinese laborers killing themselves in sweatshops, a likely reference to the wave of suicides that took place at the factories of Foxcon, the company known as the assembler of the Apple iPhone.
“I don’t know whether this film can be shown in [China],” wrote one Weibo user. Another replied: “It doesn’t matter, Summer Palace wasn’t screened here but we got to watch it anyway.”
That remark is a reference to Chinese director Lou Ye’s 2006 Cannes competition entry Summer Palace, which was swiftly banned in China after its premiere on the Croisette (although it remains widely available on streaming video sites in the country).
As THR points out, Jia’s film was co-produced by the director’s own Xstream Productions and Shanghai Film Group, a state-backed studio, “usually a very strong indication that the film got official script approval long before production.” Jia himself told the Globe and Mail that the film had been approved by censors and would be released in autumn.
Jia’s 2006 film Still Life won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival and was screened uncensored in mainland China.