Fortissimo Films at MoMA: Beijing Bastards
In Focus: Fortissimo Films.
Cui Jian is one of China’s most famous underground rockers. In Bastards, he plays himself or a thinly fictionalized version. He has fans but no gigs, because he cannot secure a venue for a prospective concert. He also lost the lease on his rehearsal space for no apparent reason. Though never outright stated, it is clear the powers that be want to close him down.
Karzi owns a venue, but his rock bar is no great shakes. Neither is he. His pregnant girlfriend Maomao disappeared after he insisted she have an abortion. He doggedly hunts for her, subjecting her friends to outright harassment, but more for reasons of ego than love. Morally ambiguous, Karzi is not the image of Chinese youth the government likes to project, but in 1993, he was the shape of go-go me-me things to come.
A contemporary of Jia Zhangke, Zhang is considered one of the godfathers of the Chinese independent film movement and a forefather of the Digital Generation. In fact, Bastards bears a strong aesthetic affinity to the subsequent dGeneration films. Shot guerilla-style with most of the director’s friends serving as the ensemble cast, the film follows its roundabout narrative from a fly-on-the-wall perspective. This is a street level film, unvarnished and unsentimental.
Tears of the Black Tiger, which screens during MoMA’s Fortissimo series this Friday (11/11) and the following Thursday (11/17).