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October 23, 2009

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Edgy films, a dark drama

SHORT films by fresh young directors will be screened this weekend and an alternative theater group presents a Chinese version of a dark and unfinished German masterpiece. Yao Minji is in the audience. Many alternative film and drama organizations are ready to go after a summer lull and the next two weeks are filled with non-mainstream screenings and stage productions.

Shanghai Daily has selected two offerings this weekend: a film screening and discussion session with directing majors from the Beijing Film Academy and a stage drama at Shanghai's famous Mecooon (aka Downstream Garage).

The prestigious Beijing Film Academy claims many famous graduates, such as fifth-generation directors Zhang Yimou and Chen Kaige and has become a symbol of the best in Chinese cinema. Graduates work on stages from local TV stations to international film festivals like Cannes and Venice.

Graduates, especially in directing majors, are considered to have high potential. A group of 12 graduates in their 20s will show their works totaling more than five hours. The young directors, all graduating within the past three years, will discuss their films with the audience after screenings.

The 18-minute short "Meatballs and Chocolate" by Xiao Xiao, who graduated in 2006, was among the official selections of shorts shown in the 2008 Cannes Film Festival. It was nominated for Best Student Short Film at the 10th Shanghai International Film Festival and has won nominations and awards in South Korea and Japan.

The 2006 film follows a six-year-old child living with his grandparents - the kind grandfather appears to have Alzheimer's disease and behaves strangely now and then.

One day the elderly man steals the boy's chocolate and eats all the meatballs from his bowl. The boy deliberately loses his feeble-minded grandfather at an intersection far from home, and later feels guilty and goes in search of him.

The touching 18-minute film is shot and edited without fancy techniques.

Screening of the 12 short films is divided into two sessions, each showing six films with discussions afterward.

Shanghai's Mecooon, a well-known alternative drama space, hosts numerous independent stage dramas by small theater groups. Youyuan Theater, a small local drama association established in 2008, is one of them. It has produced three dramas. "Woyzeck," an incomplete stage play by German dramatist Georg Buchner, is the group's fourth production.

The play, left undone at Buchner's early death at 23 in 1837, has been reworked by various writers and is considered one of the first modern plays in Europe.

It is based on a true case in 1824 and recounts how a poor man, Woyzeck, struggles in life and is executed for stabbing his unfaithful wife to death.

It is a difficult play that has been "finished" many times all over the world.

The small Youyuan Theater group is determined to give an "authentic" Chinese version of the masterpiece.

Film screening

Date: October 24, 1pm; October 25, 1pm

Address: 3/F, Quyang Library, 574, Quyang Rd

Admission: Free (reservations required)

Tel: 133-6189-9160


Date: October 23-25, 7:30pm

Address: 3/F, Bldg 100, 200 Longcao Rd

Admission: Free (reservations required)

Tel: 137-6148-7207


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