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Chinese Film Festival opens as ambassador bids farewell

Published: 
Friday, March 8, 2013

The tear-jerking story of Chinese Down Syndrome musical prodigy, ZhouZhou, kicked off the first Chinese Film Festival at MovieTowne yesterday as a memorable swan-song to departing Chinese ambassador Yang Youming.

 

During Yang’s penultimate official assignment, he looked back at successive generations of Chinese film, noting the fact that close to 900 productions are now released every year. He said the staging of the festival was an ambition he harboured for over three years.

 

Multicinemas Ltd chairman, Derek Chin, noted his own Chinese ancestry and said while T&T audiences were used to Hollywood and Bollywood, it was good that the festival now provided exposure to a greater variety of Chinese movies apart from popular kung fu fare.

 

ZhouZhou is, in fact, a significant departure.

 

Based on the life of Chinese musical conductor, Yizhou Hu (ZhouZhou), the movie provides a sensitive insight into the modest lifestyle of Houpei Hu, his family and their community in Wuhan, Hubei Province.

 

Confirmation that their newborn son is a child with Down’s syndrome could have ended in tragedy during a poignant, elegantly-shot moment in the story. But, coming to terms with ZhouZou’s condition includes the eventual birth of a second child, a girl, and Houpei’s willingness to allow his son entry into his life as a musician in a local, classical orchestra.

 

A steep, narrow staircase leads to a tiny bedroom in the Houpei household. A shiny, red double-door leads out onto a dusty street where gossipers discuss the playful boy and his odd ways. And a picture of Beethoven hangs over the tiny desk where Hu pores over musical scores, often with ZhouZhou seated on the floor next to him.

 

Rather unexpectedly, Bizet’s Carmen Overture forms part of a triumphant musical backdrop to much of ZhouZhou’s exploits as a conductor, first at the insistence of an assistant at Houpei’s claustrophobic music studio, then when the young musician is invited to perform at the Spring Festival Gala in Beijing.

 

The invitation followed the airing of the documentary The World of ZhouZhou which resulted from a chance encounter with Chinese journalist, Zhang Yiqing, while miming instructions to his father’s orchestra during a rehearsal.

 

With an ailing mother back home, ZhouZhou interrupts the Beijing gig to return to her bedside in Wuhan where he resolves, at her insistence, to continue performing on her behalf.

 

Today, following performances with the National Symphony Orchestra and Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, ZhouZhou is a respected conductor worldwide and is known as the only performer of his caliber who cannot read music.

 

The Chinese Film Festival continues through to March 12 with ZhouZhou due for daily repeats together with five other full-length feature films intended to generate more interest in an increasingly prolific and changing Chinese cinema landscape.

 

Schedule

Today

12.45 pm—Zhou Zhou, PG, 95 mins 
3.15 pm—The South Shaolin Master, 120 mins 
6 pm—Under the Hawthorn Tree, AA, 115 mins 
8.30 pm—Forever Enthralled, PG, 145 mins 

 

Tomorrow

10.40 am—Goat & The Big Wolf (Animated), AA, 88 mins 
12.45 pm—The South Shaolin Master, 120 mins 
3.15 pm—Under the Hawthorn Tree, AA, 115 mins
6 pm—Zhou Zhou, PG, 95 mins 
8.30 pm—Go, Lala, Go!, PG13, 100 mins

 

Sunday  

10.40 am—Goat & The Big Wolf (Animated), AA, 88 mins
12.45 pm—Zhou Zhou, PG, 95 mins 
3 pm—Forever Enthralled, PG, 145 mins
6 pm—Go, Lala, Go!, PG13, 100 mins
8.30pm—Under the Hawthorn Tree, AA, 115 mins

 

Monday

12.45 pm—Goat & The Big Wolf (Animated), AA, 88 mins 
3.15 pm—Zhou Zhou, PG, 95 mins 
6 pm—The South Shaolin Master, 120 mins 
8.30 pm—Forever Enthralled, PG, 145 mins 
  

Tuesday  
12.45 pm—Go, Lala, Go!, PG13, 100 mins
3.15 pm—Under the Hawthorn Tree, AA, 115 mins
6 pm—Zhou Zhou, PG, 95 mins
8.30 pm—The South Shaolin Master, 120 mins.