Jia Zhangke’s (贾樟柯) “A TOUCH OF SIN” (Tian Zhu Ding) is the first Chinese-language film to compete for the Palme d’Or at Cannes Film Festival in three years. The film revolves around four threads set in vastly different geographical and social milieus across modern-day China, ranging from the bustling southern metropolis of Guangzhou to the more rural townships in Zhangke’s home province of Shanxi .
This is not the first time Jia Zhangke has had a film in competition at Cannes. His 2008 film “24 City (二十四城记/二十四城記)“, which follows three generations of characters in Chengdu (in the 1950s, the 1970s and the present day) as a state-owned factory gives way to a modern apartment complex, was also in competition for the Palme d’Or at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival.
His 2006 film “Still Life ( 三峡好人)“, shot in a small town on the Yangtze River which is slowly being destroyed by the building of the Three Gorges Dam, was also highly successful, winning the Golden Lion award for Best Film at the 2006 Venice Film Festival.
Jia Zhangke is often quoted as one the so-called “sixth generation” of Chinese director’s, whereby his films contain themes on alienated youth, contemporary Chinese history and globalization, and more openly critique the Chinese government .
In particular his 2004 film, “The World“, is often noted for its critique of the globalization of China. “The World” was filmed on and around an actual theme park located in Beijing, Beijing World Park, which recreates world landmarks at reduced scales for Chinese tourists. “The World” was also Jia’s first film made with the consent of the Chinese Film Bureau.
In response to concerns regarding the Chinese Film Bureau he noted, “For me personally, government approval did not markedly change my creative process. My basic principle as a filmmaker stayed the same – to protect the independence of my research on society and people. Whether I shoot openly or in secret, my work cannot be influenced because during the shoot I am a filmmaker and nothing else .”