Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
New Voices in Black Cinema ’15: King of Guangzhou (short)
Hukou household registry and rigid residency permit system has turned native
born Chinese into illegal economic immigrants within their own country. At
least they do not necessarily stand out. Such is not the case for Adede, a
Nigerian overstaying his work visa to build a family with his pregnant wife.
His desperation makes him ripe for exploitation in Quester Hannah’s short film King of Guangzhou, which screens during
the 2015 New Voices in Black Cinema at the BAM Rose Cinemas.
was legal for a considerable time, having duly applied for and received visa
extensions. Those days are over. The Guangzhou authorities have launched a
get-tough campaign on immigration, routinely denying extensions and
aggressively deporting undocumented workers. Unfortunately, it is hard to make
the do-the-jobs-Chinese-just-won’t-do argument, when there are scores of rural
migrant workers eager for work in the big cities.
Adede also has very personal reasons for staying on. He has married Meiling and
they have a child on the way. Despite his difficult circumstances, he insists
they stay in China, because that is “where the future is.” Maddeningly, he will
make some terribly rash decisions in hopes of securing new papers.
is quite impressive Hannah produced King as
a student film pursuant to his studies at NYU, Tisch Asia School of the Arts. After
all, this is location shoot in Guangzhou, which has to be tricky under the best
of circumstances and even more so when the film addresses a somewhat sensitive
topic like immigration. Factoring in the dialogue in multiple languages, King just completely puts to shame the
twee indie navel gazers that seem to get the lion’s share of buzz at major
festivals (but not here).
is definitely a street level immediacy to King,
but its real power is in its depiction of the central relationship. As Adede
and Meiling, Uchenna Onyia and Karen Bee Lin Tan, look and feel like a genuine
couple. Their chemistry together is initially quite touching and ultimately
presents a gritty, unvarnished look at
contemporary life in China for the marginalized and dispossessed, while also
offering some fine performances. Conceivably, it could be programmed by African
American and Asian festivals, as well general interest fests, so it could turn
up any number of places, but it is well worth seeing regardless of the venue. Highly
recommended, King of Guangzhou screens
tomorrow (3/27) with An American Ascent,
as part of this year’s New Voices in Black Cinema, at BAM.
Labels: New Voices in Black Cinema '15, Short Films